/θ/ and /ð/

In this unit, we practise some more sounds that cause a lot of difficulty to some learners, /θ/ and /ð/. They are called ‘th’ sounds because they are both spelled in this way. If you are not sure that you are pronouncing either of the ‘th’ sounds well, make the tip of your tongue stick out just in front of your teeth as you say it.

The difference between the two is that /θ/ is unvoiced, while /ð/ is voiced. When we say a voiced sound, the vocal chords vibrate. You can feel the vibration by putting your finger on your larynx as you say the sound. A voiceles or un voiced sound has no such vibration.

Say the following:

/θ/ /ð/
Think The
Thank That
Thief Then
Through Them
Three Those
Thwart There
Breath Breathe
Cloth Clothes
Bath With
Death Father
Health Leather

Note that when you are saying a date, you need to use an ordinal number (sixth, tenth, etc. – where a /θ/ sound is), not a cardinal number (six, ten, etc). You are also supposed to say EITHER (1)  the month first, then ‘the’, then the ordinal number; OR (2) ‘the’, followed by the ordinal number, then ‘of’, then the month.

Read these dates aloud:

January 14th
May 19
August 15th
25th December
27 December
12 June

/θ/, /t/, and /s/

Some students confuse /θ/ and /t/; others confuse /θ/ and /s/. Say the following line by line, distinguishing each of the three words in a line carefully from the other two:

/θ/ /t/ /s/
Thank Tank Sank
Path Part Pass
Faith Fate Face

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