Listen to the sound recording below to learn about the voiced and voiceless ‘th’ sound.
Transcript of Recording:
You might have heard these terms – ‘Voiced’ and ‘Voiceless’ sounds.
What does this mean? How can sounds be VOICELESS????
This just means that some sounds we make using only our lips and air . (These are voiceless sounds) Others we make using our vocal chords. (These are voiced sounds). One easy example is to listen to the sound of ‘p’ and ‘b‘.
BUT . . . say ‘but’ and put your hand on your vocal chords. You can feel them moving. ‘B’ is a voiced sound.
When we think of the ‘th’ sound, it’s a bit trickier. There is a voiced and a voiceless ‘th’ sound. For both these sounds, you must put your tongue between your teeth. Don’t be shy. Just stick out that tongue!!
Make your tongue vibrate and use your vocal chords. Make sure you can feel them moving with your hand on your throat.
Now say ‘they, them, the, mother, that,’ These are all examples of a voiced ‘th’ sound.
The voiceless ‘th’ sound is much easier. Put your tongue between your teeth and blow air. You will feel like you are spitting!!
Make sure you are NOT using your vocal chords. There’s not really much sound at all .
Now try the words ‘think, thought, throw, bath, bathtub, tooth, toothpick‘. These are all examples of a voiceless ‘th’ sound.
Here’s a fun fact. All words that END with a ‘th’ sound will use the voiceless ‘th’, except the word ‘smooth‘. ‘Smooth‘ uses the voiced ‘th’ sound in American and Canadian English.
This is one confusing sound in English. If you’d like more help with pronunciation, contact me for private tutoring lessons. I am also available for Skype lessons.