How to pronounce the word “the” in English

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The word “the” is one of the first English words most students learn. However, did you know it is pronounced two different ways?

The pronunciation of “the” changes depending on if the next word begins with a consonant sound or a vowel sound.

Before a consonant sound we say THUH and before a vowel sound we say THEE. Let’s practice some examples.

How to pronounce THE + consonant sound

  • the table
  • the man
  • the woman
  • the history
  • the chair
  • the unique pen*
  • the one thing*

You might be wondering about those last two examples.

Although “unique” and “one” begin with the letters “u” and “o,” which are typically vowels, they do not begin with vowel sounds. “Unique” begins with a “y” sound, and “one” begins with a “w” sound.

How to pronounce THE + vowel sound

  • the apple
  • the elephant
  • the ice cream
  • the open door
  • the honest man*
  • the umbrella

* Although “honest” begins with the consonant letter “h,” the “h” is silent. So the word in fact begins with a vowel sound.

Smoother, clearer pronunciation!

This is a really small and slight difference, and it’s almost unnoticeable when we’re speaking fast.

But it can help make your speaking smoother because we usually link words together – we don’t say the ___ man and the ___ apple, we connect them – theman, theapple – and practicing this will help your speaking flow more naturally.

Speaking of practice, I can help you improve your pronunciation in the next 30 days when you join my American English Pronunciation Course.

We’ll go through all the different vowel and consonant sounds, practice them a lot, and then work on linking and connecting words together so your sentences flow together smoothly when you’re speaking.

It’s a great way to improve your pronunciation fast, so that you can be more confident that you’re speaking English clearly and other people will understand you.

Speak English more clearly & confidently!

How to pronounce the word "the" in English Espresso English

Learn more about the Pronunciation Course