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  • A lot of non-native speakers have problems with the TH sound.

  • In this American English pronunciation video,

  • were going to study the word THE in several phrases

  • to show you the tricks and shortcuts that Americans use to easily link the TH to other sounds.

  • We are going to study several examples of function word phrases withthe’.

  • I’ve already made a video that goes over the pronunciation ofthe’.

  • To see that video with real-life examples, follow the link at the end of this video.

  • Here were going to focus on linking the word THE to other words.

  • Well study up-close, slow motion video of the mouth saying various two-word phrases with THE.

  • At the, in the, is the, with the...

  • for the, and on the.

  • All of these common combinations are made up of two function words,

  • so theyll be very fast and not too clear.

  • If you pronounce these words very clearly and fully, it will not sound natural.

  • She’s AT THE store. This is not how we speak.

  • She’s at the store. At the, at the...

  • It’s important to capture the character of American English by saying function word phrases this way.

  • Linking the TH can be hard when youre trying to do it quickly, so let’s learn some short cuts to make it easier.

  • Let’s start by studying AT THE.

  • The vowel in AT can be AA, but youll usually hear it as the schwa,

  • uh, uht the, at the, uht the. In the slow motion video, youll see AA, with more jaw drop.

  • How do we quickly make the T followed by TH?

  • At the, at the, at the.

  • You probably don’t hear a T, do you?

  • That’s because it’s a Stop T here, followed by another consonant.

  • So just stop the air in your throat, atthe. What does the tongue do? Let’s watch.

  • Jaw drops for the AA vowel. As the jaw comes up, the tongue tip is still down, behind the bottom front teeth.

  • It comes through the teeth.

  • It never went to the roof of the mouth, the position of T.

  • When I bring my tongue through my teeth - AT

  • I’m in position for the TH, but I stop the air.

  • So I’m ready to go for the TH as I’m making the Stop T.

  • At the. Uhtthe.

  • Same thing when the vowel in AT is the schwa: Uhtthe. Uhtthe.

  • This is easier than making a T. You don’t have to bring the tongue up into position for the T

  • and then through the teeth. Just bring it through the teeth and stop the air.

  • This is how Americans do it. At the, uht the.

  • Let’s keep watching.

  • Now the tongue tip comes back into the mouth

  • and goes down behind the bottom front teeth, where it needs to be for either the EE vowel

  • or the schwa inthe’. Let’s watch the phrase again.

  • Jaw drops for the vowel, tongue tip comes through the teeth, then back down for the vowel.

  • Note that it’s just the tip of the tongue that comes through the teeth, not more.

  • Try that with me. At the. At the. At--the. At the.

  • Or, with the schwa, uht the, uht the, uht the.

  • I’m at the store. At the. I’m at thuh store. At the, at the.

  • Next, the phrasein the’. Let’s take a look.

  • In an unstressed syllable, the jaw barely drops for the IH vowel.

  • Now the tongue tip comes through the teeth.

  • But wait. Isn’t the tongue supposed to go to the roof of the mouth for the N? Nn-Nn.

  • Yes, that is usually how the N is pronounced.

  • But I can make the sound with the tip of my tongue through the teeth, nn-nn, while the part that’s

  • just a little further back is at the roof of the mouth. Nn, nn. Innnthe.

  • Now the TH, and the tongue tip goes back in the mouth and down for the vowel.

  • Let’s watch the phrase again.

  • Tongue comes through the teeth for the N T H.

  • This is simpler than making the full N position and then the TH position.

  • This is how Americans do it. So now you have two short cuts.

  • The Stop T can be made with the tongue tip in position for the TH, and so can the N.

  • Let's watch AT THE and IN THE again.

  • Notice the movements of the mouth are small and simple.

  • Next, the phraseis the’. A lot of people have a hard time linking the S or Z sound with the TH.

  • The jaw drops just a bit for the IH vowel

  • and the tongue tip touches the back of the bottom front teeth.

  • Next youll see the tongue tip move, it will point up.

  • The tongue tip can either point up or down to make the S and Z sounds.

  • I do both, depending on the word and the sounds around it.

  • The teeth come together for the Z sound.

  • Is...is...

  • Now the tongue tip does something interesting.

  • It doesn’t come through the teeth for the TH!

  • When the voiced TH begins a function word, like in the, these, this, we can do a shortcut.

  • Rather than a tip coming through the teeth, TH-- it presses behind closed teeth.

  • Th...th...

  • Important: it is not at the roof of the mouth.

  • That would make a D sound and that is not correct. Let’s look at the correct position.

  • Jaw drops for the vowel. Tongue tip up and teeth close for the Z.

  • Tongue tip comes back down and touches the back of the closed teeth.

  • THIS is the correct position. Tongue tip is not at the roof of the mouth.

  • And tongue tip down for the vowel in THE. Let’s watch again.

  • Amazing. This is a much easier way to make the voiced TH quickly in a function word.

  • This happens a lot. In the first two examples,

  • you can make the sound before with the tongue in position for the TH, the Stop T, and the N.

  • But you can’t make the S or Z sound with the tongue tip through the teeth.

  • So we take a different shortcut. We alter the TH by not bringing the tongue tip through the teeth.

  • Is the... Is the ... It still sounds like a TH to native speakers. It still sounds right.

  • The next phrase iswith the’.

  • Wow. Two TH’s. What do we do here? Let’s take a look.

  • The lips round for the W. When the lips part, the inside of the mouth looks dark.

  • That’s because the tongue was lifted in the back for the W sound.

  • As the tongue comes forward, the tip heads right for the position between the teeth.

  • There’s the TH. Then the tongue tip goes back inside the mouth

  • and down behind the bottom front teeth for the vowel.

  • What do we do with the two TH’s?

  • Withis usually pronounced with an unvoiced TH, Thh... and THE with a voiced TH, dduh...

  • Here’s what to do: combine them. Just make one TH. Make it unvoiced, and connect the two words with it.

  • With the. A voiced TH would also be okay, with the, but it’s much less common and it’s more complicated.

  • So stick with the unvoiced TH.

  • With the...with the...with the...

  • So here the shortcut is, don’t make a voiced TH.

  • Combine it with the ending unvoiced TH ofwith’. Let’s watch again.

  • It looks pretty simple, doesn’t it?

  • Now let’s studyfor the’. ‘Forreduces toferin a sentence: for you, for me, for the first time.

  • To pronounce it this way, the bottom lip comes up to touch the bottom of the top front teeth.

  • Fff. Let air pass through. The tongue can be pulled back for the R, it won’t affect the F sound.

  • For the R sound, the middle of the tongue shifts back and up and little.

  • Urr....ferr....

  • So the tip of the tongue isn’t touching anything.

  • Forrrrr-the.

  • So the tongue tip is pulled back, and we simply bring it forward through the teeth.

  • Let’s take a look.

  • Wow. This is in slow motion, and yet the tongue tip was through the teeth for just a brief moment.

  • Let’s watch again.

  • For the, for the. Can you practice that quick movement without making sounds,

  • just bringing the tongue quickly in and out.

  • This is the movement you want. The tongue tip only needs to be there for an instant

  • to make the right sound. Since the sound before, R and the sound after,

  • the vowel, are both voiced, your vocal cords are already doing what they need to do.

  • All you have to do is that quick tongue movement. If it feels awkward, don’t worry.

  • The movement is quite easy to practice, and practice will make it feel more natural to you.

  • Th th, th, for the, for the, for the.

  • Let’s look one more time.

  • Now the phraseon the’. Do you remember the trick fromin the’?

  • You can make the N with the tongue tip through the teeth: NN. Let’s take a look.

  • Jaw drops for the vowel. The tongue tip is pointed down.

  • Then the tongue tip comes up and out of the teeth. A quick, simple movement.

  • Let’s watch again.

  • So linking the TH isn’t as complicated as you might think.

  • The movements of the tongue are small, and there are shortcuts you can take

  • to make transitions between consonant sounds easier.

  • Let’s look at the phrases one more time.

  • Notice the simplicity of the mouth movements.

  • I hope this video makes you more confident with the TH sound.

  • These little phrases withtheare very common.

  • Can you come up with similar phrases fortheseandthis’?

  • Practice them. Practice these little phrases over and over.

  • The more you do this, the more natural these tongue movements will be for you.

  • Then try putting these two word phrases into larger sentences.

  • Focus on making these words simply and quickly. You can do it!

  • Speaking this way will make you sound more natural and American. This is not sloppy English.

  • You want to make function words like these very short in all of your speech,

  • even in a business setting or with colleagues.

  • Here is the video I mentioned earlier: How to pronouncethewith real life examples.

  • Also, here’s a video onto the’, with more up close and slow motion speech.

  • And here’s another video on linking TH with other examples.

  • You can click here for these videos, or, in the description below.

  • Are there some common phrases you need help with? Let me know in the comments.

  • If youre new to Rachel’s English, welcome. I have over 500 videos to help you speak better

  • American English on my YouTube channel. Click here to visit my channel and subscribe.

  • Or, see this playlist to get started with my videos. The link is also in the description below.

  • And I have a great ebook – 290 pages with two and a half hours of audio.

  • This book details my method for learning American English pronunciation.

  • It organizes hundreds of my online videos for a path, start to finish,

  • to help you speak beautifully and naturally.

  • Click here or in the description below for more information and to purchase a copy.

  • Youll get free updates of the book for life.

  • That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.

A lot of non-native speakers have problems with the TH sound.