In this episode, we are going to focus on a very tricky sound that many people have trouble with because it’s very particular to English – that sound is ‘ttttthhhhh’ as in thirty, something, or strength. Notice how this th sound can come at the beginning of the word like thirty or in the middle of the word like something or at the end of the word like strength. In this episode, we’re going to practice saying the th sound at the end of the word.
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Let’s get straight into it!
So, first of all, how do we make the th sound in English? Well, to make this sound you need to put your top teeth on your tip of your tongue. You need to do this! Poke your tongue our a little bit and rest your top teeth on top of your tongue.
Now that you’ve done that, there are actually two ways to make this sound – one without breath and one with a burst of breath. Let’s practice the first way which is without breath. Repeat after me…
When you say these words there is very little or almost no breath coming out of your mouth. The sound happens in your mouth. Put your hand in front of your mouth and let’s do it again, and this time pay attention to the fact that you can’t feel your breath against your hand. Repeat after me…
Now, let’s make the other type of sound. This time you’re going to rest your top teeth on your tongue again. That’s right! Poke out your tongue a little bit and put your two front teeth on your tongue. Now this time I want you to push breath out of your mouth like this: thhhhhh →
Ready! Let’s say some words with the thhhhhh → sound. Repeat after me…
Now, it’s important to make sure you’re not saying the wrong sound. This sound is NOT a d sound; it’s not
It’s also not a F sound. It’s not:
Those sounds are close to or similar to the TH sounds but they are wrong. They may be easier for you to make but if you speak to a native English speaker they will sound not quite right and by changing the shape of your mouth and putting your top teeth on your tongue you can say the sound accurately.
Okay, so we’ve learned how to say the breathless th sound and we’ve learned to say the th→ sound using a burst of breath. Now we’re going to do something challenging. Are you ready? We’re going to say the explosive th→ sound at the end of the word, not at the start and not at the beginning.
Let’s start with the LTH sound. Ready? Repeat after me:
One more time:
Very good. Let’s do the PTH sound now. Repeat after me:
Cool! There’s only one of those in English.
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This one is hard, ready? It’s the FTH sound. Repeat after me:
Make sure you’re making the th→ sound.
Let’s try another one. This time it’s the NGTH sound. So the NG sound comes from your throat and then it moves up to the TH→ sound. Repeat after me:
This next one is a little easier, I think! It’s the MTH sound. Repeat after me:
Can you hear the th→ sound at the end? Can you hear the little th→ sound – the breath being pushed out at the end?
Let’s now do the NTH sound. We use this one with numbers. Repeat after me:
Next up we have DTH. Repeat after me:
One more time…
Now, if you find any of these sounds particularly difficult, don’t be lazy. Make sure you skip back and try the sound again. Remember that if you do sign up to the pronunciation courses on E2 English we have a full course with AI feedback that will help you to improve your pronunciation.
Ok, let’s do the TTH sound. There’s only one word for this sound. It’s:
eighth x 3
Okay, and we’ll finish with some really tricky sounds… these are sounds that even native English speakers struggle to say… they are rare, but let’s practise them anyway.
sixth x 3
twelfth x 3
thousandth x 3
Alright, well done! Now you just have to have the confidence to really say those sounds in real life with people, with native speakers. Saying those sounds properly is the difference between pronouncing the word correctly and mispronouncing the word.
Awesome. Thanks for listening. Make sure you subscribe to this podcast, share it with your friends and give it a rating. And remember to check our www.e2english.com for our online pronunciation courses powered by AI.
See you next week!