American English Pronunciation:The Voiced & Voiceless Th Sounds

In spoken American English the letter combination TH makes two different sounds. One of these sounds is voiced and the other is voiceless.

The IPA symbol for the voiced th sound looks like this /ð/.

The IPA symbol for the voiceless th sound looks like this /θ/.

While both of these sounds cause problems for non native speakers of American English, the /ð/seems to be the most problematic.

The /ð/ is the sound you hear at the beginning of frequently used words such as the, this, that, those. You also hear this sound in the middle of many common words such as: mother, father, brother and rather.

To make the /ð/ sound place your tongue slightly between your teeth. Your tongue and teeth should be touching. Since this is a voiced sound you should feel your vocal chords vibrate when you make the sound. That vibration will extend all the way to your tongue.

Most people find that the /ð/ is not comfortable sound to make and it takes a lot of practice to get it right!

To make the/θ/ sound place your tongue slightly between your teeth. Your tongue and teeth should be touching lightly. When the air flows out of your mouth it should feel gentle.

The /θ/ is the sound you hear in words such as: thanks, Thursday, birthday and month.

To see my software tutorial for these sounds click below.

How to pronounce the TH sounds.

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