I am not a native English speaker and I wrote the phrase "Through this three-year journey". Then I found it awkward to be read aloud because there are three consecutive words in the phrase that begin with "th".

I wonder if there is a phrase such that it is equivalent in meaning to the given phrase and one can read it aloud more fluently and easily?

  • 2
    I think you should practice your enunciation rather than looking for potentially unnatural phrasing to avoid usages that you might currently find tricky to say out loud. You might also consider copying Cockneys - replace the first consonant in through and three (not this) with F. Nobody is likely to criticise you, and you'll at least be easily understood. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica May 20 '15 at 14:57
  • Oh thank you. You meant my phrase is okay for a native speaker to read aloud? – Megadeth May 20 '15 at 15:02
  • I'm not a linguist, but to me the difference between the initial consonant in, say, this and thin is quite extreme. You can get away with fin for the second if that's any easier, so you just need to work on the other sound to start with. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica May 20 '15 at 15:05
  • 1
    I think it will be a little hard for us to rephrase it without context (although I agree with everyone else that it would probably be good for you to practice and read it without making changes). I would probably look for a synonym for "though," and possibly add an adjective like "long" or "amazing" between "this" and "three", if you want to break it up a little. "During this long, three-year journey..." – Keiki May 20 '15 at 15:27
  • 3
    Note that there are two different sounds which are spelled ‹th›. One is 'voiced' (there is a 'hum' while you say it - IPA /ð/) -- this is the sound in this. The other is 'unvoiced' (there is no hum - IPA /θ/) -- this is the sound in through and three. So you don't have the same sound three times in a row. – StoneyB on hiatus May 20 '15 at 15:37

I'm a native AmE speaker and this does not sound awkward to me when I read it aloud.

The th in this is voiced, so it's actually a different sound than the th in through or three.

Nonetheless, both are not uncommon sounds in the beginning of English words.

These three things belong to me.

Take this through the machine over there.

I feel that the thrill is gone.

If you still want an equivalent phrase easier for you to say, try something like During our three-year journey or During my three-year journey. Three is a basic word in English, being a number, and there's no easy way to substitute that, though.


If (as has been my experience with other non-native, particularly Chinese-background, speakers) you mean journey figuratively (as opposed to literally), then equivalent phrase alternatives could include:

over the last three years


during that three year period

(Depending on whether the "Journey" has continued to the present day or terminated in the past)

On the other hand, if a literal journey is in view, "along" could be substituted for "through" in the original phrase.

  • Thanks so much. I would like to use "journey" in a figurative sense. – Megadeth May 20 '15 at 16:53

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.