Rules for pronouncing "the"

When do you use the "e" sound as in "bee" and the schwa sound when pronouncing "The"? Is it similar to an and a with vowel sounds in the following noun ditcating which pronunciation is used?

This is a good question and Charles will post his comments shortly. -Diana

Need help improving your Accent?
Read why I love Charles Becker's "Best Accent Training MP3's".

HTML tutorial
Accent Reduction MP3 Course

Comments for Rules for pronouncing "the"

Click here to add your own comments

Jul 02, 2012
How to pronounce "the" etc.
by: David

"The" is correctly pronounced with a long "e" sound. However, no matter what language you speak, many of the words you say are said a little sloppy for several reasons. One common reason people use sloppy pronunciation is because it's difficult for the muscles of our mouths to make changes when we are talking rapidly. Another common reason we use sloppy pronunciation is because we've been taught bad pronunciation thinking that it's correct.
Well, we tend to say "thuh" when we mean "the" with a long e sound. We also say "uh" when we mean "a" with a long sound. So, we sound like this, "I'd like thuh ham an (rather than "and") cheese on wheat bread. I don't want uh Coke though." This sloppy way of talking makes it more difficult for ESL students to learn English because it creates more rules to remember and words that have to be memorized that don't adhere to the rules. There are enough exceptions to the rules for speaking and spelling English as it is without making it more difficult than it has to be.

Sep 19, 2010
how to prononce ''the''
by: Louma

Hi, how are you Diana? I hope you're fine.
the 'e' sound like 'be' : if the next 'e' word began by a vowel but if it began with a consonant we prononce it as a 'shwa'

Sep 17, 2010
Great work!
by: Anonymous

Hi Diana

Thanks for keeping us informed about the best sources to improve our level of English. We always appreciate your kind & endless effors on this.


Sep 16, 2010
Thank you!
by: Anonymous

Hi Miss Diana,
You are sending useful information. This is very helpful to us in order to learn English. Keep sending it each month! Good night!

Sep 16, 2010
by: Anonymous

Hi, This is an interesting information.
Thank you :)

Feb 03, 2010
Pronunciation of "the"
by: Anonymous

Good question. Yes, there are two pronunciations of "the".
Here's the rule:

When "the" comes before a vowel sound, we pronounce it with /i/ as in "bee" or "tea".
For example: the answer, the other and the inside. In these examples "the" is pronounced with /i/ because "the" comes before vowel sounds.

If "the" comes before a consonant sound, we pronounce it with the schwa sound /ə/. For example, the page, the start and the winner are all pronounced with /ə/ because "the" comes before a consonant sound.

-Charles Becker
Accent Reduction Specialist
New York, USA

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to ask me about English pronunciation and speaking..

Still looking?  Search the site for exactly what you need using the site search box below.

Happy exploring!

Share this page:
Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

Discover these Amazing ESL Materials!

It's English Time! English Express! 5 Simple Steps to Better Writing! English Harmony 2.0! Pronunciation Power!
Effortless English! Best Accent Training! Ola Zur! English Grammar Revolution! English Success

Sign-up For The Learn English Newsletter

Your E-mail Address
Your First Name (optional)

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you Learn English Newsletter.

Every month I get the learning English newsletter and it helps me improve my English.  it is very cool! - Inara