IPA phoneme /ð/
In English, both in Received Pronunciation and in General American, the IPA phonetic symbol /ð/ corresponds to the initial consonant sound in words like "the", and "that" and the middle one in "mother" and "gather".
With initial /ð/:
- Grammar words: than - that - the - their - them - then - there - these - they - this - those - though - thus
/ð/ in mid-position:
- Grammar words: although - another - either - neither - other - rather - together - whether - within /wɪðˈɪn, wɪθˈɪnAmE/ - without /wɪˈðaʊt, wɪθˈaʊtAmE/
- Content words: bother - brother - clothing - father - farther - feather - further - gather - leather - mother - Netherlands - northern - rhythm - southern /ˈsʌðərn/ - weather
With final /ð/:
- Grammar word: with /wɪð/ or /wɪθ/
- Content words: breathe - smooth
Less common words
Some words ending in /θ/ have a plural ending in /ðz/
- baths - mouths - paths - youths
Anticipated pronunciation difficulties depending on L1
Preconceived ideas and other interferences from L1 obviously interfere in many cases with how students perceive - and pronounce - sounds/words in English. The following section aims to point out some of the most typical difficulties teachers and students may encounter regarding pronunciation.
The main difficulty is the difference between /ð/ and /d/, that is, they may have difficulty distinguishing between "they" and "day". In Spanish both sounds are allophones. This means that to the Spanish ear [aˈðjos], and [aˈdjos] are heard as the same word, even if only [aˈðjos] is the natural pronunciation of "adiós".
Since in Spanish [d] always follows [n], a sentence such as "can they go?" may be uttered as *.
Many Spanish speakers from Spain don't distinguish clearly between /ð/ and /θ/ and when they see "th" tend to pronounce it /θ/, a sound which corresponds to the letter "z" in Spanish. They even replace the [ð] sound of standard Spanish by [θ]. For example, the name of the satirical website La Verdaz is a phonetic rendering of "La Verdad" in a regional accent from Spain.
- Decoding exercises: "th"
- Pronunciation exercises: /d/ vs /ð/
- Pronunciation exercises: /θ/ vs /ð/