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I have noticed a regrettable trend toward using the short "e" when pronouncing "the" before words beginning with a vowel: "thuh Earth"; thuh older one". This used to be a cultural symbol (e.g., old movies) of illiteracy and still sounds so to me. Is there any specific recommendation on this other than taste and pleasing the ear?

marked as duplicate by tchrist, Tushar Raj, Nicole, Matt Gutting, ScotM May 2 '15 at 2:48

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  • 3
    Works the same way as the rule for a/an. /ði/ or /ən/ before vowels; /ðə/ or /ə/ before consonants. An hour, the hour: /ən'awər, ði'awər/; a use, the use: /ə'yus, ðə'yus/. – John Lawler May 1 '15 at 4:49

Meriam-Webster has an excellent suggestion on the pronunciation of "the":

before consonants usually thə, before vowels usually thē, sometime before vowels also thə; for emphasis before titles and names or to suggest uniqueness often ˈthē

In other words, if you want emphasis, go with the long "e"; and if you feel the pronunciation requires it, use the long "e" before vowels.

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