I found a while ago that the preposition with has two pronunciations: /wɪð/ and /wɪθ/.

Some dictionaries have both of them for AmE and BrE (OALD), but some have only /wɪð/ for BrE and both for AmE (Cambridge Dictionaries).

Are these pronunciations interchangeable, and if it is an American thing, is there a difference in using the two in AmE?

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    For anyone who would like to write an answer, please start by reading phonetic-blog.blogspot.com/2012/10/with-regretful.html – snailcar Oct 19 '15 at 19:26
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    One piece of anecdotal data: Native speaker of American English - born in New York but grew up in the mid-atlantic region. I say /wɪð/ sometimes and /wɪθ/ others, depending on the next word. If the next word starts with a voiced consonant, I'm more likely to use /wɪð/, and likewise if the next consonant is unvoiced and /wɪθ/. I don't think I notice which one someone else is using. I definitley notice /wɪd/, /wɪt/, /wɪv/, and /wɪf/, although the unvoiced and voiced of each pair would likely sound the same to me. – Todd Wilcox Oct 19 '15 at 19:44
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    Additional anecdote: Midwestern US native - I use /wɪθ/ almost exclusively. I don't think I'd notice whether you used either of your suggestions, but as @ToddWilcox suggests, the additional pronunciations would stick out badly. – Jason Patterson Oct 19 '15 at 19:58

A speaker would never need to make a conscious choice between those two pronunciations. There is no difference in the meaning. The voicing would just emerge as a natural consequence of the voicing of the following syllable, as Todd Wilcox suggests. So, in saying "with them," "with" would be voiced automatically to be able to voice "them."

However, "with," in some "lower class" American dialects, is pronounced "wid," as in "I brung some money wid me." And some Americans whose childhood dialect used that pronunciation may make sometimes make a choice to say "with," rather than "wid," so as to speak in a "higher class" way.

  • I concur that a speaker would never normally make a conscious choice between them. Whichever comes out comfortably would be the one. – Corvus B Nov 8 '15 at 19:23

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