Pronunciation exercises: /θ/ vs /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.
|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.
- 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
- 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
- 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/)
- 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/
- booth - notwithstanding - with - withdraw - withdrawal - withhold
Several plurals of words ending in /θ/ are irreglular, pronounced as /ðz/. In American English they may be regular, pronounced as /θs/.
Conversely, at least one plural is regular in Received Pronunciation and may be irregular in American English.
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);
- Wikipedia, Pronunciation of English "th"