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Is it "dhee", "dh" or "dhaa"? I have heard people pronounce it in these three ways. Are all of them correct or does it depend on context?

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It depends on the words that follow the: It's dhee before a vowel, and dhaa before a consonant.

That is how it is generally pronounced. When it is stressed for emphasis, the pronunciation becomes dhee: in every case.

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    I'm glad you mentioned the emphasis usage – that's perhaps the main point. :^)
    – J.R.
    Jan 31 '13 at 9:09
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When the is followed by a vowel sound, it is usually pronounced /ðiː/ (dhee), so that the e sounds like the ee in see or fee.

When the is followed by a consonant sound, it is usually pronounced /ðə/ (dhaa), so that the e sounds like the a in comma or the u in sum. However, the vowel is sometimes so short that it is barely noticeable (dh).

There are some exceptions though. When the is stressed for emphasis, it is usually pronounced /ðə/ (dhaa), regardless of the sound following it. However, in some dialects, it is usually pronounced /ðiː/ (dhee). It is also acceptable, though uncommon, to use any of these pronunciations when another would normally be used.

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  • Except in the sentence above (and in my sentence here) where the is followed by is but is pronounced /ðə/. ;-)
    – Jim
    Jan 31 '13 at 6:32
  • @Jim Hence the word usually.
    – ctype.h
    Jan 31 '13 at 6:35
  • This depends on the speaker's accent, or for learners, which accent they're hoping to mimic. In British and Australian English the a in comma and the u in sum are different vowels (ə and ʌ respectively). Feb 1 '13 at 10:53
  • In AmE, Australian English and many British dialects too, “the” is normally pronounced ðə unless speaking very slowly and formally or unless using particular emphasis. Please listen closely to this video for example (she says “the common way people speak” etc about 1 min. in): youtu.be/Zi2Z0Twx6cI Jan 22 '20 at 2:35