Two ways to pronounce "the"

Two ways to pronounce “the”

Written by Lilian Ndongmo. ESL Teacher

The definite article “the” has two distinct pronunciations. The difference in pronunciation depends mainly on the word it follows. The can be followed by a word that begins with a consonant sound or a word that begins with a vowel sound. (Click here  or here to get the difference between a sound and a word)

Pronunciation of the before a consonant sound

When the word begins with a consonant sound, “the” is pronounced /ð/ the 1, just like you would pronounce it in the sentence: The man is happy. The man

Note: /ð/ is the phonetic symbol for the word “the”. You can find it in any English dictionary that includes phonetic pronunciations

Pronunciation of the before a vowel sound

When the word begins with a vowel sound, “the” is pronounce /ði/ the 2.

Example: The apple is delicious.

What happens when the adjective starts with a consonant and the noun starts with a vowel sound like in the sentence: the delicious apple is red?

Answer: The pronunciation of “the” only applies to the word it follows directly. Therefore you would say: the /ð/ delicious apple. The apple

Take a few minutes to practice pronouncing “the” correctly.

Read the following aloud, then click the audio button to check your pronunciation.

  1. The red egg  the red
  2. The egg beater the egg
  3. The elephant’s tusk. the elephant
  4. The white elephant. the white
  5. The online application. the online
  6. The administrative office. the admin
  7. The office of the manager. the office
  8. The English language the English
  9. The official language of my country is English. the official
  10. I left the horse in the old stable. the horse
  11. The president of the students’ union talked about the advantages of joining the union. the president