Clear English pronunciation of ‘th’

Sep 26, 2018 | Blog, sidebar

Georgie Taylor

Speech Pathologist



Difficulties with pronouncing ‘th’ is a very common problem for non-native English speakers. In fact most ESL speakers mispronounce the sound ‘th’ in some words.

‘th’ is often particularly difficult for people to pronounce at the ends of words for example ‘earth’, ‘Perth’ and when it is near the sounds /s/, /z/, /t/ or /d/. For example pronouncing it clearly in the word ‘something’ or ‘together’.

Here is a really quick video that I put on Youtube for someone a while ago.  You can see the right tongue position for the sound ‘th’ correct and this will help you pronounce it correctly. Of course you will need a lot of practice to correct it in your everyday speaking. See the short video clip on the correct pronunciation of ‘th’ here.  

Practise opening your mouth!

Photograph by Bigstockphoto

There are two types of ‘th’ sound in English – unvoiced and voiced.  ‘Unvoiced’ means there is no vibration from the voice box and this is the sound in words like ‘think’ and ‘thought’. The voiced ‘th’ has vibration from the voice box and this is the sound in words like ‘that’ and ‘the’. Don’t worry about the voicing – that will happen automatically! What you do need to worry about is the position of your tongue. For ‘th’ the tongue needs to be slightly between the top and bottom teeth. The air blows very gently between the top teeth and the tongue to make the ‘th’ sound.

Watch this funny video of what can go wrong when you mispronounce ‘th’.

Actually making the ‘th’ sound correctly isn’t usually the most important area for speaking English clearly. If you find that sometimes people misunderstand your English then you should be focusing on improving other areas of your English pronunciation like  – word stress, rhythm, English sentence stress, weak vowels (like schwa), English diphthong vowels and long single vowels and also making sure that when you speak you make the sounds at the ends of words clearly and correctly. These areas will improve how clear you are and how easily other people understand your English.

Check your pronunciation of all the sounds in English here.

If you already have clear English but want to reduce your foreign accent (accent reduction) and sound more like a native English speaker then you should definitely work on correcting your ‘th’ sound.  As it is such a common sound in English – correcting it will improve your English accent so you sound much more like a native speaker!

Correcting your pronunciation of ‘th’ is included in a Star Pronunciation course. See our Clear English pronunciation course options here.

Thanks. Have a great day.

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