Updated: Apr 7, 2020
The most troublesome consonant blend for almost all English learners is the TH sound. There are two types of TH sounds—voiced /ð/ and unvoiced /θ/. With practice, English learners can learn how to pronounce the TH sounds like a native American English speaker.
Consonant blends, which are also called consonant clusters, are groups of two or three consonants in words that make a distinct consonant sound. Some examples are GR, PH, SH, ST, CH, and TH.
The most troublesome consonant blend for almost all English learners is the TH sound. There are two types of TH sounds - voiced /ð/ and unvoiced /θ/.
For example, the words these, father, and smooth have a voiced TH /ð/ sound. The words thought, birthday, and month have an unvoiced /θ/ TH sound.
Follow along in my video to practice how to make the voiced TH /ð/ and unvoiced /θ/ TH sounds.
To pronounce both of the TH sounds correctly, you must place your tongue in the right position between your teeth.
The voiced TH /ð/ sound will vibrate your tongue. That’s because your tongue is lightly touching the front of your top teeth.
Let's practice these words: these, father, and smooth. They all have the voiced TH /ð/ sound.
The unvoiced /θ/ TH sound will neither make a sound nor vibrate your tongue. Your tongue barely, if at all, touches your top teeth.
Now let's practice these words: thought, birthday, and month. They have an unvoiced /θ/ TH sound.
Can you now tell the difference between the two TH sounds?
Once English learners practice both TH sounds, they will find it easier to pronounce many words that have TH in them. And other English speakers will be able to understand them much better.