I am confused on when to pronounce the pronouns that starts with th as the correct way, for example the word 'the', when I am watching a movie, I always hear they pronounce the th as 'd'. But for some pronouns like those, these, etc. they pronounce it in the proper way.

  • "How do you like dem apples?" "I like 'em very much! Or (facetiously imitating a German speaker's reply), "I like zem very much!" Dec 5, 2021 at 18:41

3 Answers 3


The proper way to pronounce the, them, they, their, that, then, etc, etc is with a soft "th" sound.

Pronouncing the "th" sound as "d" is called th-stopping and it is a feature of certain accents, notably New York City English and African-American Vernacular English. It is also stereotypically associated with lower-educated people and with Italian-American mobsters.

As an English-language learner you should attempt to pronounce the soft "th" sound, as deliberately th-stopping might be construed as a mockery or insult. But if you cannot pronounce it properly you will still be understood.

  • For the record, most native New Yorkers pronounce "the" in the standard way. However, the "d" sound is common in some Italian-American communites in the U.S. Northeast, as randomhead notes. For example, if I recall correctly, the movie character Rocky Balboa (who is from South Philadelphia) uses that pronunciation. Dec 5, 2021 at 16:19

There are a lot of native speakers, with a lot of accents.

In the "big two" (General American, and Received Pronunciation) "The" has a /ð/ phoneme. But as "the" is generally unstressed, there will be a lot of subtle variation on the actual production of this sound when placed in a sentence with other vowels and consonants around it.

In other dialects "the" can be pronounced with a /də/ (some African American, some New England dialects have this) or /t/ (typically Yorkshire). You'll sometimes see this rendered in text ("Da funk", or "tha'll goa raight to t' devil" (thou will go right(=straight) to the devil).)

Mispronouncing /ð/ as /d/ is also a common feature of many non-native accents, as /ð/ is a rather rare sound. If you deliberately use /d/ you will simply sound "foreign".

What you hear, and what a native speaker will hear may not be the same! However in GA and RP the sound is phonemically /ð/ for a speaker of that dialect, and not /d/.


“th” has two phonemes: /ð/, which is voiced and usually occurs at the beginning of syllables, and /θ/, which is voiceless and usually occurs at the end of syllables.

A few accents do reduce /ð/ to [d] or [t], but if you “always” hear this, then it is more likely you cannot distinguish the normal /ð/ sound.

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