It's a weird question. I want to know how to pronounce "th" correctly, as in 'the' or 'thin'.

Should I bring my tongue out of my teeth?

In Arabic (as my native language), the correct pronunciation of 'z' 'ذ' is when you bring your tongue outside. Is it the same in English?

  • For "thin" the tongue is touching the upper teeth and the very tip is projecting maybe 2mm beyond the front of the teeth. For "the" the tongue is likewise touching the upper teeth, except that the tip is just even with the front of the teeth. In both cases there is a small gap between tongue and lower teeth – Hot Licks Jan 3 '16 at 21:36
  • By the way, it's important in English to never pronounce "th" as /z/ (when voiced) or /s/ (when unvoiced). Unlike in Arabic, these are not common pronunciation variants for native speakers, even in the most informal or dialectical speech. They are a strong sign of a foreign accent. If you have difficulty making the sound /ð/ (as in "this"), it is better to substitute /d/ for it instead. For /θ/, some dialects of native speakers substitute /f/, although this is only in specific regions or in children's speech. – sumelic Mar 3 '16 at 21:45
  • More of an ELL question, isn't it? – T.E.D. Mar 3 '16 at 22:00
  • @T.E.D.: in any case, it's too old to migrate. – sumelic Mar 3 '16 at 22:05
  • Ahmed, are you talking about Modern Standard Arabic(MSA) or one of the mutually unintelligible colloquial dialects (eg Moroccan, Egyptian, Lebanese, Iraqi)? MSA is one of the few world languages that shares the voiceless dental/alveolar fricative 'θ' with English. It should be close to the sound for 'ث'. – Mitch Mar 3 '16 at 22:36

Like this:

For THIN /θɪn/

  1. Put the tip of your tongue slightly out between your upper teeth.
  2. Put your hand on your larynx (in a sec we'll see why).
  3. Practice just passing the air current and saying "ssssss". Since this sound is voiceless, you should not feel vibrations on your hand.
  4. Now, while still "biting" your tongue say /t/. You'll hear a mixture of /s/ and /t/. Repeat, but make sure there are no vibrations.
  5. Congratulations, that was /θ/.

For THE /ðə/

All as above, EXCEPT:

  • Practice first with /z/.
  • Pronounce /d/ and, very important:
  • You should feel the vibrations, because this sound has a lot of energy.
  • That was /ð/!

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