I am a bit confused about how to practically pronounce the vowel in the definite article "the" when followed by a consonant. In theory, it should be a schwa.
However, I have a feeling like, in many practical situations, the vowel is pronounced more like a "short e" (as in "bed") rather than a schwa. At least, that gets very close to a short e.
As an example, you can try having Google Translate pronounce the three-word phrase "therefore, the cat". It is not only Google Translate that pronounces it this way. I've heard many native speakers similarly pronounce the vowel in the definite article "the", when followed by a consonant, very similar to a short "e" if not identical to it.
Is it fair to say that in spoken English it is ok to pronounce the vowel in "the" when followed by a consonant very similar to a short "e"?