Tip #1: Pronouncing “th” in English

Hello everyone!

Most of you find speaking the hardest aspect of learning English.

Let’s see how to pronounce the “th” combination in English. There are two different sounds, but a lot of people always pronounce them the same.

Both are made by putting your tongue between your teeth so that the tip of your tongue is touching your teeth.

TH – voiced dental fricative /ð/

Ok, ok, that doesn’t help a lot. This TH sounds like “this” and is a soft sound.
To pronounce this TH, place the tip of your tongue between your top and bottom teeth and vibrate your vocal cords – it’s quite fun!

Words that have the /ð/ sound are:
- than
- then
- this
- weather
- smooth
- other

TH – voiceless dental fricative /θ/

Words with this TH are, for example, “thing” and “thought”. It is a much stronger sound.
To pronounce this TH, do the same: place the tip of your tongue between your teeth but just blow air through your mouth without vibrating your vocal cords.

Words that have the /θ/ sound are:
- thank
- think
- therapy
- moth
- path
- youth

Good job! Now all you have to do is practice! If you want to hear these sounds out loud, just watch the video below:

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About the author  ⁄ Kate

I have been teaching English for 9 years. I currently work for ABA English but I also teach English in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I love vegan cooking, my pets and everything to do with social media!

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30 Comments

  • Reply
    Roxana Ramírez
    8 June 2011

    I think it was very helpfull for my pronunciation and will be really important to practice and repeat it many time. Thanks you for you help

    • Reply
      Kate
      9 June 2011

      We’re very happy it will help you Roxana! And you’re right, learning a language is all about repeating so just listen to a lot of movies and videos and repeat – like a parrot! :)

  • Reply
    Belidna
    14 June 2011

    Hello Aba! I like this article, it’s very useful. Happens to me that sounds the same. I hope that with the help of this article can pronounce them better, as it is. Have a good weekend! Belinda

  • Reply
    Manfred Camero
    23 August 2011

    I’d like this exercise, because it learn to say the correct way to pronunce th, in spanish not exist this vocabulary and it’s difficult more who we’re not native speakers. Thanks, regards.

  • Reply
    elizabeth
    17 December 2011

    Hi ABA, I really understand the meaning of “TH” now…it was difficulty to me understand lol Could you please give me more examples of words? I really want (and need) to practice a littlle more… Thank you o lot for this amazing lesson! Have a nice weekend! Beth

  • Reply
    Maru Lara
    6 March 2012

    THis isn´t so diffucult to produce if you are teaching Spanish L1 speakers…give them the SPANISH “Z” sound in ZAPATO and the “D” as in “DUENDE” and help them make lists of the English words correspondingly!! By the way I had my dentures made lately and certainly my production of the TH sound was affected realy and truly …lol !

    • Reply
      Kate
      7 March 2012

      Hahaha, well Maru, I’m glad the dentures helped! :) You’re right, it is a mix of the Spanish D and Z sounds.

  • Reply
    fadhillah z
    1 March 2013

    Thanks a lot…it’s make me to understand how to correct my prounoun…cause i’m just learn about english language…like a beginner student…:D. So,i’m so sorry if my type is wrong….:D And i wanna like u, very good english…

    • Reply
      Kate
      3 March 2013

      Good work Fadhillah! Your typing is very good, just remember to keep practicing! :)

  • Reply
    Daniel
    5 April 2013

    Thank you so much! your video was really helpful :) Ill be practicing a lot, as you said that the most important thing about learning a language is practicing. Thanks again and regards.

  • Reply
    Dennis
    9 April 2013

    Thank you for teaching how to pronounce “th” . I thought I had always been pronouncing it correctly until I saw this video. Before you taught how to pronounce it, I used to pronounce “th” that have sound /ð/ in words like ‘than’ the letter “d”. And i used to pronounce “th” that have the sound /θ/ in words like ‘thank’ the letter ‘t’ (wherein I place the tip of my tongue behind my top teeth). Btw i’m a Filipino that migrated to Australia at the age of 15 but I know how to speak english since i was little (Phillippines’ 2nd language is English, it is always use in school’s literature).

  • Reply
    Bryan
    2 May 2013

    Hello!, You help me a lot with my “th” pronunciation, the problem is that I’m from South America, and we don’t have a sound similar to the “th” sound, but it’s similar to the “Z” sound in Spanish from Spain, like in the words zapato, zorro or zoologico, so it can help a lot with Spanish speakers. Ohh!, and you’re right, the pronunciation of the “thr” like in three, through or thrift, is too difficult to me, I don’t know why, but when I say three, it sounds like thrrreee or thde. lol :)

  • Reply
    Nicolai
    8 May 2013

    How about this sentence: “We are going away for a couple of months, so pack accordingly”. If find pronouncing first “months” and then followed by “so” very difficult. Is there a third way used here, so that I’m actually doing it wrong, or is it my pronunciation of “months” that makes it so difficult? It would be great if anyone could help me!

    • Reply
      Kate
      22 May 2013

      Hi Nicolai, As a native English speaker, when I say it, it sounds much like: “monthsso”, both words are united because they end and begin with the same sound. Pronouncing the “th” and an “s” is a little bit difficult, but with a bit of practice you will succeed! :)

  • Reply
    Mike
    31 May 2013

    Hi Kate. Thank you very much for this exercise! I actually wasnt that bad at “th” sounds, but this helped me to master this sound. The trick was, like you mentioned above, i didnt let emough space for the air to come out. So thanks again. Hope ur havin a good day.

    • Reply
      Kate
      11 June 2013

      Excellent! Keep on practicing Mike :)

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    12 December 2013

    Thank you very much. I learned saying “TH” on this website. This is very useful video. Very good. I will go on to watch you….

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