Crumbs of Knowledge – Hints and Tips to Improve Your English – ‘Th’

Not everyone can say the two ‘th’ sounds in English, and doing it quickly is even harder.  Here’s all you need to know, and some drills for practising.

There are 2 ‘th’ sounds.  They are made the same way, but:

– the first (like in ‘think’) is ‘unvoiced’, it is made by pushing air out of your mouth, with no vibration in your throat;

– the second (like in ‘think’) is ‘voiced’, made by making a noise that vibrates in your throat while you push out of your mouth.

For both sounds, your mouth shape is the same.  With your mouth slightly parted, push your tongue up, flatten it so it covers all your top teeth, and relax it.  Push the air out between your tongue and the top of your mouth, so it comes out mostly between your front 4 teeth.

It is easier to make the ‘th’ sound by sticking your tongue quite far out of your mouth.  This makes it slower to say, though.  As you get better, try pulling your tongue in, until you can make the sound with your tongue pressing behind your front teeth.  You’ll then be able to say your ‘th’ much more quickly.

Practice with these tongue twisters:

“I thought a thought. But the thought I thought wasn’t the thought I thought I thought.
If the thought I thought I thought had been the thought I thought, I wouldn’t have thought so much.”

“Whether the weather be cold, or whether the weather be hot, we’ll weather the weather, whatever the weather, weather we like it or not.

“As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” – (from Coolio, Gangsta’s Paradise).

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” – (from the Bible).

“….that thong thong thong thong thong.” – (from Sisqo, Thong Song).

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