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What is the pronunciation of “the”?

How to correctly pronounce the the in The United States?

Is it the the that’s pronounced /ðə/, or is it the the that’s pronounced /ðiː/, and why?

I often hear the second pronunciation, but I think that since the U in United States is not a vowel sound, it should be the first pronunciation.

  • 1
    What do you mostly hear? Aug 30 '12 at 18:38
  • 2
    I don't see any good reason to downvote the question. Maybe you guys are simply being mean.
    – CodeBlue
    Aug 30 '12 at 18:50
  • 1
    What do you mean by 'correct'? Aug 30 '12 at 19:03
  • 4
    The reasons for downvotes are that 'This question does not show research effort; it is unclear or not useful'. You mention no research at all, though the pronunciation of the is in every dictionary and there already is a question on this topic; if you have a reason to think 'The United States' grammatically different from 'The anything else', you don't mention it, let alone make it clear; and since there is no such thing as 'correct' pronunciation, it cannot be useful except as a poll. Not my downvote, but I do think that if you see no reason to downvote, you need to look a bit harder. Aug 30 '12 at 19:06
  • 1
    @TimLymington Added my "research" - i.e. what I already knew. Is that good enough?
    – CodeBlue
    Aug 30 '12 at 19:10

Because United States begins with a glide /j/. and the schwa of an unstressed the is easy to miss, you may be confusing a hardly heard schwa for a long sound.

So someone saying /ðə.juːˈnaɪtəd/ might come out sounding a bit like /ðjuːˈnaɪtəd/, and you might be perceiving that as /ðiːjuːˈnaɪtəd/ when it’s really not.

  • I think the difference between the two is something of a continuum anyway, so identifying "points along the way" with specific symbols can be potentially misleading at the margins (if indeed there are any "margins" :) Aug 30 '12 at 21:03

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