How to Pronounce TH | The ULTIMATE Guide for English Learners!


Well hey there I’m Emma from mmmEnglish! In this lesson, I’ll go over the pronunciation of the ‘th’ sounds. I’ll remind you how to make the sounds because actually there are two sounds made by the letters ‘th’ and I’ll give you some guidelines to help you to decide when to use each sound. And more importantly, we’ll practise using these sounds in sentences because that’s when it gets tricky. Before we get started, I want to say a huge welcome to my newest subscribers I’m looking forward to taking you on an English language journey. If you haven’t subscribed to my channel yet, then you can do it just by hitting that red subscribe button right there. Okay so the ‘th’ sounds are really common, really common in English, though, not many other languages use these sounds. So if you’re having trouble pronouncing the ‘th’ sounds, then don’t feel bad about it, you’re definitely not alone. But the good news is you can improve this sound and you can start to feel more natural as you’re using it but you have to commit! Improving your pronunciation is like going to the gym. The first time, you’re gonna suck at it. But each time that you go back and you work those muscles a little bit more, the easier it will get and the better you’ll feel about yourself, right? So remember, that the tongue is also a muscle and you need to strengthen it, you need to workout. So let’s review the position of the tongue. Open your mouth and push your tongue through, just a little, not like this, like this. Put your finger there if you’re unsure about where to stop your tongue. Notice that the tongue is not completely relaxed, there’s a little tension. If you rub the bottom of your teeth with your tongue, can you feel the tension in your tongue? This is the same amount of tension that you need to hold the ‘th’ position. The tongue is not completely relaxed, it’s lifted and running through the middle of your mouth. If your tongue is too high in the mouth, up behind your teeth, you’ll make that /t/ or /d/ sound. And if your tongue is not coming through your teeth, if you keep it inside, you’ll make a /s/ or a /z/ sound. So you really must pay attention to the tip of your tongue, it must come through between your teeth. Now as I mentioned, there are two ‘th’ sounds, a voiced sound and an unvoiced sound. Now both of these sounds use exactly the same mouth position. It’s just that the sound comes from a different place. Voiced consonant sounds are made using the vocal cords. So once you’ve got your teeth and your mouth in position and you make a sound here, you should feel a buzzing. It might even tickle your tongue a little. Unvoiced consonant sounds are made by air pushing through your mouth. So it’s the air that creates the sound. So keep your tongue and your mouth in the same position, make sure you’ve got some air in your lungs and push the air through. So this is the unvoiced ‘th’ sound. So when should you use the voiced or the unvoiced sound? That’s a great question because both sounds are represented by the same letters. And I wish I had a simple answer for you, I know that you like it when I have a simple explanation of why this rule is like that and when you should use it but unfortunately in this situation, there are lots of exceptions. But there are some guidelines that I’m going to share with you, guides that will help you to make a decision and help you to use the correct ‘th’ sound. Remember they’re guides, not rules but let’s focus on the unvoiced sound first, made with air. So a ‘th’ at the beginning of content words is usually an unvoiced ‘th’ sound. So content words are words that provide the meaning in a sentence. There are nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs. Words like ‘think’ and ‘thought’ and ‘thirsty’ and ‘thankful’ and ‘theory’. So the ‘th’ at the start of content words is usually unvoiced. Now if there is a ‘th’ in the middle of a word, before a consonant, it’s usually unvoiced. ‘bathtub’ ‘faithful’ ‘worthless’ And a ‘th’ at the end of a word is usually unvoiced. ‘month’ ‘strength’ ‘warmth’ ‘teeth’ ‘fifth’ There are some exceptions though. And I’m going to talk about those in just a minute. Now the voiced ‘th’ sound made using your vocal cords. So if there’s a ‘th’ at the beginning of a structure word, they’re usually voiced. So structure words, sometimes called function words, are different to content words because they don’t have a lot of meaning in English sentences. They’re grammatical words. They don’t tell us a lot of information but they’re important to the structure of English sentences. So structure words are words like ‘this’, ‘that’, ‘those’, ‘these’, ‘the’, ‘there’, ‘then’ or ‘than’ So all of these words, I mean, some of these words are very, very, common English words, right? They’re very, very common. So learning to pronounce the different ‘th’ sounds is really important if you want to sound natural when you speak English. There is a noticeable difference. Now a ‘th’ in the middle of the word, when it’s between two vowel sounds is usually this voiced sound. ‘bother’ ‘worthy’ ‘mother’ Now I said the ‘th’ is usually unvoiced at the end of words but except if the word ends ends in ‘-the’ like ‘bathe’, ‘breathe’ and ‘loathe’. So these are pretty good guides but there are always exceptions, aren’t there? English! There are exceptions like ‘smooth’ and ‘clothes’ and ‘frothy’. All of these words are breaking the rules and there are more! Actually if you can think of any more, please add them to the comments so that we can talk about some of the exceptions in the comments. But anyway, now that you’ve got through most of these guidelines, it’s time to practise. So I want you to repeat after me. Throw those things. Throw those things to Theo. There are three of them. There are three of them over there. Ready for this one? At three thirty on Thursday, a thousand of those thrilling thinkers will gather. At three thirty on Thursday, a thousand of those thrilling thinkers will gather. I love tongue twisters! Can you think of your own ‘th’ tongue twister? I think I thought I.. If you can think of one, put it in the comments so that we can all practise together. Put your ‘th’ tongue twisters right down in the comments and let’s practise! What a workout! Well done to you! I mean your tongue might feel a little exhausted after that so you can take a break now. But make sure that you come back to this lesson tomorrow or the next day and practise again. It’s just like doing sit-ups right? Each time you do it, it will get a little bit easier. Well that’s it for this lesson! I really hope that you enjoyed it. Please make sure you give it a ‘like’ and subscribe to my channel because I make new lessons here, every single week. Thanks for watching and I’ll see you in the next lesson!

76 Comments

  1. melc311

    November 2, 2019 at 2:06 am

    i just realized i kept saying D instead of TH.

  2. A. B.

    November 8, 2019 at 5:11 am

    I prefer to pronounce it incorrectly than to sound like Mike Tyson…

  3. Jh Zhou

    November 9, 2019 at 4:52 am

    The least thing I have ever expected in my life is going back to relearn how to do the "th" sound.

  4. RobinPM100

    November 12, 2019 at 10:34 pm

    English or American should decide – just pronounce th like T or somewhere like S and the world will be a better place, th sounds so weird and akward to me, sorry 😁

  5. ilhan karakoc

    November 14, 2019 at 10:55 am

    Hi Emma. Would you agree that the word "THE" sounds different when followed by a word starting with a vowel?

  6. FOREVER24 TRUTH

    November 14, 2019 at 3:19 pm

    I think, I thought, I am thirsty…

  7. Thomas Mäder

    November 14, 2019 at 5:32 pm

    Great video, thanks! But is it just me or do most Americans not really talk like that? The voiced th sound actually sounds more like a d to me a lot of times. Or am I wrong?

  8. Luke

    November 15, 2019 at 8:49 pm

    Everything I thought I knew about the pronunciation of the letter H is a lie.

  9. Henry Khosasih

    November 16, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    Do native speakers always pronounce 'th' in every word that contains 'th' even if the word is not the focus in that sentence?

  10. Libby Ahn

    November 17, 2019 at 3:51 am

    Thousands of fathers and mothers then threw those things over there

  11. Killua

    November 19, 2019 at 3:23 pm

    Omg it's so hard

  12. poop star

    November 22, 2019 at 1:16 pm

    Lovely teacher , lovely lesson very helpful . Thanks a lot it is very thoughtful of you teaching us "th" sounds. I
    always have problem with this sound.👍👍

  13. Oumou Diallo

    November 23, 2019 at 4:04 am

    No matter how much I try I can’t do this too hard 😓

  14. haider Safi

    November 24, 2019 at 11:21 am

    Thank you to everything you said this was very helpful, i ame from Syria 🇸🇾 and living in Norway 🇳🇴

  15. Koky m

    November 25, 2019 at 4:24 pm

    English is weird

  16. I Made Sefriantaro

    December 1, 2019 at 8:18 am

    What about 20 ?

  17. Huy Duc

    December 2, 2019 at 4:52 am

    THANK TEACHER

  18. Reuben Cohen

    December 3, 2019 at 12:27 pm

    three thousand thunder in northern portsmouth

  19. ruffgook

    December 3, 2019 at 12:43 pm

    aussie english? no thx

  20. MultiSuperfluous

    December 3, 2019 at 6:59 pm

    Three thin thieves thought through thoroughly Thursday through Sunday

  21. Sonya Kowalewska

    December 5, 2019 at 12:35 am

    Great video! But the more I practice the more I become comfortable with having a "speech impediment" Haha.

  22. Petr Zvoníček

    December 5, 2019 at 11:52 am

    Pusinka

  23. thr02

    December 7, 2019 at 4:34 pm

    Well i like much more my polish accent sounds more american and that th in british is horible can't do that 😂

  24. Asia Mohamed

    December 11, 2019 at 4:14 pm

    well that helped me alot

  25. Santhi Priya

    December 14, 2019 at 8:09 am

    Tq soo much it helped me alot

  26. ramoX

    December 15, 2019 at 6:03 am

    My tongue is much better now 😏😂😂

  27. thecakefate

    December 16, 2019 at 2:10 am

    I'm a native English speaker just watching this out of interest. I'm from New York City and when we pronounce the word "clothes", we drop the "th" entirely! So "clothes" is pronounced the same way as "close". Just something I was reminded of while watching this. 🙂

  28. Cantrips

    December 21, 2019 at 1:13 am

    What about words that have a bunch of TH followed by R? Like this tongue twister…

    "I threw three hundred thirty three thousand three hundred thirty three free throws through a throat shaped throttle"

    I only have a problem with TH when it's followed by R. Words like "throw", "three", "through".

    I can't pronounce any of those spontaneously without using the Spanish R.

  29. DAVE798

    December 21, 2019 at 6:59 pm

    I am an English learner and the th sound has been the sound that I've struggling the most with.

  30. мyeong kimwoo

    December 22, 2019 at 2:40 am

    my accent is ew and i cant say
    the 'th' sound nor can i say "world"

  31. Miss Molly

    December 22, 2019 at 5:28 am

    You are a very beautiful woman.

  32. Elmontaser marketing

    December 22, 2019 at 12:49 pm

    I found this useful 🙂
    I thought a thought.
    But the thought I thought
    Wasn’t the thought I thought I thought.
    If the thought I thought I thought,
    Had been the thought I thought,
    I wouldn’t have thought I thought.

  33. pastrelle

    December 25, 2019 at 3:51 pm

    Thank you so much! This really helped. All I needed was the tension of the tongue.

  34. Hina Rafaqat

    December 28, 2019 at 9:47 am

    I am giving up!!

  35. MK

    December 29, 2019 at 6:31 pm

    What is T – HETCH ??

  36. loua alexis

    January 1, 2020 at 11:08 pm

    It's more important to follow your instructions then I will do better.

  37. Tahera Ahmed

    January 3, 2020 at 1:14 pm

    I've done it ma'am🤗i can pronounce them in a correct way😊😊

  38. Bernhard Haberstetter

    January 3, 2020 at 5:21 pm

    The sixth sense

  39. Tin Vu

    January 4, 2020 at 9:51 pm

    Please help me more of THe TH sound my dad want me to THat why

  40. Bryce .Adams

    January 7, 2020 at 5:44 am

    Tfw english is my only language but i can't pronounce th

  41. Lui5 EmiLiO Z0

    January 7, 2020 at 6:17 pm

    Like si hablas spanish y no entiendes nada pero sigues viendo para aprender 😂❤️

  42. Nice Skuy

    January 8, 2020 at 10:51 am

    DEUTSCHE?

  43. Jesus Landeros.

    January 9, 2020 at 5:55 am

    I think there's another "version" of the th unvoiced sound; the one made by puffing the air along the vowel and not starting to puff before, holding it, and stopping when the vowel comes (as in the former th unvoiced sound).

  44. Space Bebe

    January 14, 2020 at 4:44 pm

    I’m really bad at TH and WR or just R

  45. LittleFlyingAnimationMV's

    January 15, 2020 at 6:25 pm

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m really thankful for this video, but I hate the ‘superior’ touch those ‘perfect english speakers’ most of the time have.

  46. McPhant

    January 16, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    it worked for me for the first time lol. great tips

  47. APOPHISCA

    January 17, 2020 at 3:29 pm

    my th sound like…. f/v

  48. Poké Tube

    January 18, 2020 at 1:47 am

    Sanks so much for zhe help, I sink you're zhe only person who has actually helped me wis zhis

  49. Bristolboi97

    January 19, 2020 at 1:13 am

    Tip on if you absolutely CANNOT make the TH sound, stop talking like "I tought dat de sank you was not sankful" or whatever. Stop using Ts Ses, Ds, or Zs. If it is an unvoiced TH, use an F. If voiced, use a V. Lots of people in the UK talk like this anyway, you hear people from the West Country say stuff like "I fought vat you knew nuffing about vis". So English speakers DO talk like this and it is a much less noticeable way of showing you can't say your THs. At least you will sound like you have been around lots of English people.

  50. Henry Jia

    January 19, 2020 at 3:06 pm

    I love your teaching style

  51. silvia h

    January 20, 2020 at 2:50 pm

    it is annoying that you are a teacher but do not know how to pronounce letter H!!..:-(

  52. Anastasiia Moralez

    January 20, 2020 at 4:39 pm

    Gosh so hard!! I have therapist by name Kathy or Kathleen, so hard to say her name! Was driving and practicing her name aloud 😀

  53. mahboube ebrahimi

    January 20, 2020 at 7:05 pm

    Finally i get how to pronounce this sound . Thanks a lot .

  54. Kali Das

    January 21, 2020 at 5:39 am

    HOW PALIDTANI & INDIANS SAY THIS, HLOY DAMN LOL

  55. claudio andre olmos

    January 26, 2020 at 12:06 am

    I need a wife like you.. are you single..

  56. indri yulia syafitri

    January 26, 2020 at 4:49 am

    soo difficult 🙁

  57. Abishek H

    January 27, 2020 at 4:52 pm

    Thank you, Miss Emma!
    As an Indian, I find it quite challenging to pronounce the 'th' sound as well as the 'v' and 'w' sounds(I end up interchanging the sounds in sentences). On top of that, I go back to my old way of pronouncing words when I am in conversation with someone whereas, I nail them when practising alone.

    This is so bizarre!

  58. Douglas

    January 29, 2020 at 2:04 am

    Great video, helped me out 4 real. You rock.

  59. derfjan Tongtayots

    January 30, 2020 at 9:38 am

    Three million three hundred thirty-three thousand three hundred and thirty-three.

  60. Galliano Marr

    January 30, 2020 at 6:39 pm

    As a gay guy I exercise my tongue a lot but I still cant pronounce th properly

  61. Isabelle Gruber

    February 2, 2020 at 12:04 pm

    This helped
    me

  62. xFreedi

    February 6, 2020 at 12:31 am

    maybe wasnt my best idea to practice with the word strength

  63. Scratch

    February 7, 2020 at 5:11 pm

    Now I understand why English speakers speak so loud. Otherwise it would be impossible to pronounce 'th' sounds)

  64. 凃少麒

    February 8, 2020 at 8:57 am

    Dammit I can't pronounce smooth smoothly

  65. Md.Mohiuddin Borshon

    February 9, 2020 at 4:56 pm

    oh teacher it is so duficult

  66. cat Red

    February 11, 2020 at 8:27 pm

    Thanks for these tips.Allah bless you Emma!

  67. Hamid Bin hussain

    February 12, 2020 at 3:37 am

    No comment

  68. Iftikhar Ahmad

    February 17, 2020 at 4:13 am

    Oh you are gorgeous girl

  69. Lorenaa Javarini

    February 19, 2020 at 7:19 pm

    These words for me it's more difficult to pronounce in english!

  70. Aka Bile Emmanuel

    February 19, 2020 at 9:37 pm

    Merci beaucoup teacher ..but this ( th) matter isn't easy at all i'm trying and my tongue is so confused..no pain no gain!

  71. Bosco Yeung

    February 21, 2020 at 1:23 pm

    I just wanna know do native speaker say ‘the’ like this if they are speaking so quickly

  72. David Davidsen

    February 24, 2020 at 8:46 am

    My English level is really good and I'm would say I'm fluent in English however I still can't pronounce the th sound properly. I have an overbite which makes it harder, anyone have some tips on how to pronounce th sound with an overbite?

  73. Elina Ihnatsiuk

    February 27, 2020 at 1:01 pm

    Can you make like a review lesson of th sound, especially the topic of nouns that and in th. Their pronunciation in singular and plural form. I really don't understand how to pronounce baths, paths, months and so on.

  74. Hoyl Shan Ip

    February 29, 2020 at 3:54 am

    Do native English speakers change the voiced th sound to /d/ when they speak faster in connected speech?

  75. Yo_gurl Jay

    February 29, 2020 at 5:01 am

    I can’t say death properly when i pronounce it i say deaf

  76. ivory abia

    February 29, 2020 at 9:42 am

    I'm an oral English student but this left me more confused. 'th' in class is called thitha. There's crossed and uncossed thitha

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