Pronunciation exercises: /θ/ vs /ð/

From Teflpedia

ð

this /ðɪs/

θ

think /θɪŋk/

This page sets out some words teachers can use to help their students become more aware of how they can improve the pronunciation of /θ/ and /ð/.

The difference between /θ/ and /ð/ is that /ð/ is voiced and /θ/ is not. Even if there are very few minimal pairs, these two sounds are clearly distinct phonemes.

/ð/ is much more common in grammar words and /θ/ in content words.

/θ/ /ð/
Grammar words Content words Grammar words Content words
Beginning of the word thorough, through thank, theory, three that, they, this
Mid position anything, everything author, birthday, method although, other, whether brother, leather, weather
End of the word both bath, health, worth with bathe, clothe

In grey, lines with very few examples. In green, lines with (relatively) more examples.

/θ/[edit]

IPA vowels
æ ɑː
trap father - start
e
dress face square
ɪ ɪə
kit fleece near
ɒ əʊ ɔː
lot goat taught
ʊ ʊə
foot goose mature
juː jʊə
cute cure
ʌ ə ɜː
strut comma nurse
ɔɪ
price mouth choice
IPA consonants
Normal sound: /b, d, f, g, h, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, v, w, z/
 ʃ  ŋ
show church sing
ʒ  j 
usual judge you
θ ð s
think that see
IPA Stress
ˈ Primary stress
hotel /həʊˈtel/
ˌ Secondary stress
understand
/ˌʌndərˈstænd/
IPA Syllabification
. nitrate /ˈnaɪ.treɪt/, night-rate /ˈnaɪt.reɪt/

Grammar words[edit]

  • At the beginning of the word: thorough /ˈθʌrə/BrE /ˈθɜːrəʊ/AmE - through
  • At the end of the word: both - with (also /wɪð/)
  • In mid position: anything - everything - nothing - something - withinAmE - withoutAmE

Content words[edit]

  • At the beginning of the word: thank - theatre - theory - thermometer - thick - thief - thin - thing - think - third - thirsty - thirty - thought - thousand - thread - three - throw - thumb /θʌm/ - Thursday
  • At the end of the word: bath - birth - breath - cloth - death - earth - faith - fourth - growth - health - length - month - moth - mouth - north - south - teeth - tooth - truth - worth
  • In mid position: anthropology - Athens - author - athlete - birthday - enthusiasm - Ethiopia - ethnic - filthy - healthy - hypothesis - mathematics - method - monthly - wealthy

/ð/[edit]

Grammar words[edit]

  • At the beginning of the word: than - that - the - their - them - then - there - these - they - this - those - though - thus - within (AmE also /wɪθˈɪn/) - without (AmE also /wɪθˈaʊt/)
  • In mid position: although - another - either - neither - other - together - whether
  • At the end of the word: with (also /wɪθ/)

Content words[edit]

  • At the end of the word: bathe - breathe - clothe - smooth - soothe
  • In mid position: algorithm - bother - brother - clothes /kləʊðz, kləʊz/ - clothing - farther - father - feather - further - gather - leather - logarithm - mother - Netherlands - northern - rather - southern /ˈsʌðərn/ - rhythm - weather - worthy

Irregular plurals of words ending in /θ/, as /ðz/

  • baths - mouths - paths - youths

/ð/ or /θ/[edit]

  • booth - notwithstanding - with - withdraw - withdrawal - withhold
  • /ð/,BrE AmE /θ/AmE: loathsome - within - without

Several plurals of words ending in /θ/ are irreglular, pronounced as /ðz/. In American English they may be regular, pronounced as /θs/.

  • /ðz/,BrE AmE /θs/AmE: baths - oaths - sheaths - truths - youths - wreaths

Conversely, at least one plural is regular in Received Pronunciation and may be irregular in American English.

Minimal pairs[edit]

There are no minimal pairs with two common words.

  • ether /ˈiːθər/ - either /ˈaɪðər, ˈiːðər/; loath - loathe; mouth (n.) - mouth (v. move lips); teeth - teethe (to grow teeth);

References[edit]


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External links[edit]