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“th” [θ] [ð] Pronunciation | Saying the Dates in English

Today is a very special day on the calendar–it’s Leap Day! Today is February 29th, a day that comes around only once every four years, to make sure our calendars remain accurate.

Knowing how to say the calendar dates in English is not only practical, but a great way to practice pronunciation of the “th” consonant sound.

How to Say the Dates in English

(You can also practice How to Say the Months of the Year in English | Pronunciation & Stress)

In English, we always say the day of the month as an adjective, such as:

  • first (1st)  |  June 1st
  • thirtieth (30th)  |  October 30th
  • fifteenth (15th)  |  May 15th

You can also say the day before the month if you include an “of”, but this is less common and more formal:

  • the first (1st) of June
  • the thirtieth (30th) of October
  • the fifteenth (15th) of May

Because we use the adjective form of the days when saying a date in English, this is a great way to practice your  “th” pronunciation.

How to pronounce [θ] and [ð]

Many English language learners have a difficult time with the “th” [θ] and [ð] sounds, because their first language simply does not have these sounds.

To produce the “th” [θ] or [ð], you must:

  • put the tip of your flat, relaxed tongue between the teeth; and
  • blow out air.
  • To produce [ð], your vocal chords will also vibrate

 

Listen and Repeat

Put your hand on your vocal chords (throat/front of neck) to feel the differences in vibration. 
  • [θ]  (no vibration | “voiceless”)
  • [ð]  (vibration  |  “voiced”)
  • [θ]
  • [ð]
  • [θ]
  • [ð]

Did you feel the difference?

If the tongue does not go between the teeth for  [θ] or [ð], English language learners often produce:

  • [s] or [t] instead of [θ] (Example: “thought” –> “sought”; “thanks” –> “tanks”)
  • [z] or [d] instead of [ð] (Example: “there” –> “zer”; “those” –> “doze”)

 

Pronunciation Practice

Listen and Repeat

  • “I was born on February 20th” [TWEN tiy yith] or [TWEN niy yith]
    • 20th” [TWEN tiy yith] or [TWEN niy yith]
  • “The wedding is on the 15th of March” [fif TEENTH]
    • 15th [fif TEENTH]
  • “Her party is on July 10th” [TENTH]
    • 10th [TENTH]
  • “School starts August 30th” [THUR diy yeth]
    • 30th [THUR diy yeth]
  • “My birthday is October 5th” [fifth] or [fith]
    • 5th” [fifth] or [fith]
Note that in English, when there are a group of consonant sounds together, Americans tend to drop a sound. This is why:
  • 20th [TWEN tiy yith] –>  [TWEN niy yith]
  • 5th [fifth] –> [fith]

 

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Elemental English podcast on iTunes.

And if this lesson was helpful to you, feel free to share it with friends and family on Facebook and Twitter

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9 comments

  1. Hello, first of all you’ve got a great bunch of content here!
    I’ve been practising both voiced and unvoiced TH sounds for months but I still have some problems particularly with the [ð] when there is too many of it in a sentence. Nonetheless I feel no difficulties while speaking [θ].
    Also it’s hard for me to connect plural words [s] along with both THs sounds.
    Do you have any advice for me?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Great question! You are not alone in your troubles with [ð] and the plural 🙂

      First, can you give me some examples of words and/or phrases that you are having problems with?

      One reason why you *may* be having trouble with the [ð] — when there is a lot “happening” in a sentence in terms of consonants, native English speakers sometimes simplify the sound [ð] and transform it into a different sounds (like [d]) or all together drop it (that’s why I’d like an example from you).

      For example, because “clothes” [klowðz] has three consonants in a row [wðz], natives English speakers unconsciously don’t put their tongue between the teeth and just say [klowdz]. Why? It’s more efficient and this doesn’t interfere with comprehension.

      Again, this is all unconscious.

      We do the same with [θ] in the plural. For example, we don’t say “months” as [mʌnθs], but we replace the [θ] with a simpler [t] and just say [mʌnts]. Again, it’s more efficient and completely unconscious.

      Give me some examples of what is troubling you, and we’ll figure it out! The problem might be coming from these consonant clusters in the plural, but I’d like to know if it’s something else 🙂

  2. First of all, this is the best English pronunciation training I’ve ever found.

    I remember I was able to find this episode on Podcast, but I cannot find it any more. Was it removed from this list https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/english-pronunciation-language/id465174263 ?

    thanks!

    • Thanks for the nice compliments, Aaron! 🙂 The episode is still on the podcast — for some reason, the web site only shows the 30 most recent episodes. You can subscribe to the podcast on your iTunes, and you will see all of the episodes. If you can, I’d appreciate a review on iTunes, as well, since that will help more students find Elemental English!

      Let me know if you have any requests for lessons.

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