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ESL forum > Grammar and Linguistics > The pronunciation of "THE".    

The pronunciation of "THE".


The pronunciation of "THE".
What are the rules regarding the correct pronunciation of the word "the"?

I work at a junior high school in Japan, and I have found that Japanese students are taught that "the" is pronounced "thee" at certain times (if the following word begins with a vowel) and "the" at other times (if the following word begins with a consonant).

I am from the US and have never heard of these rules before! Can someone help me clear this up?



10 Mar 2010      

United States

You �re almost right, Alan. It �s the sound of the following word, not the letter, that determines the pronunciation of "the."
Thee before a vowel sound
The apple
The other one
The hour (silent "h", so the first sound is a vowel)

thƏ before a consonant sound

thƏ paper

ThƏ Once and Future King  (The first sound of "once" is "w")


10 Mar 2010     


we also use THEE when we want to stress a certain world , to highlight its meaning.
For example: THEE man , when we want to stress that the MAN is someone important we refer to.

I also agree with yanogator. 

10 Mar 2010     


This is also because of  LINKING!
When the next word starts with a vowel, speakers have a tendency to lenghen the final e and link it to the following vowel, almost like it �s the same word, no pause.
But you make a short pause when the next word starts with a consonant.
the book.
LINKING is the hardest thing for students to understand, because in class they usually see and study the words separately, but native speakers link all the time!
There �s a great book about it. It �s Whaddaya say? by Nina Weinstein.

10 Mar 2010