Possible Duplicates:
Is pronouncing “The” as in “Thee” still correct in titles?
What is the pronunciation of “the?”

What would be the correct way to pronounce "the"? According to my Swedish-English dictionary at home, it follows the same rule as for the articles "a" and "an". Is this really true in every situation? I've noticed that native speakers doesn't always follow this rule, and I've catched myself pronouncing (or thinking) it as [ðɜ] before words beginning with the "a" sound (like in "play" or "age"). Is that incorrect? Or does it just depend on dialect?

  • Right. Strange it didn't show up when I searched for it. After taking a peek at the question I quickly realized that this is a duplicate. What is the common Stack Exchange practice in these cases?
    – Shathur
    May 6 '11 at 13:10
  • the question will be closed and perhaps even merged with one of those. The site search doesn't really work for short and general words such as "the", so no one is blaiming you. In the future, what I can recommend instead is having a look at the "faq" tab under "Questions", or googling using the "site:" operator.
    – RegDwigнt
    May 6 '11 at 13:13

Definition of "the". JSBangs sums up for the most part, though I'd like to add that it's mostly interchangeable in that if you pronounce it in one way and not in the other, nobody would notice.

However, one thing I've noticed is that if "the" is used to emphasize the noun that follows, it's always pronounced "thee". Such as "thee" commander and chief or "thee" single best sandwich in the world.


In American English you have:

  • [ðə] before consonants
  • [ði] before vowels

This doesn't depend in any way on what the following consonant or vowel is. Of course, in rapid, informal speech the vowel may disappear altogether. Other dialects may treat this differently, but the basic principle should apply.

  • What speech are you familiar with?
    – Shathur
    May 6 '11 at 12:21
  • @Shathur, American English. I updated the answer. May 6 '11 at 12:30

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