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I'm not a native speaker of English, and I was recently puzzled with the question, "How can Americans put their tongue in z (is) position and then change to th (the) in such short time?"

May you explain to me how it is possible?

  • The pronunciation of a short, common word pair like that will be entirely dependent on the context (which you fail to provide). – Hot Licks Feb 16 '16 at 18:24
  • I'm wondering how you're pronouncing it, because it seems simple to pronounce to me. – Scott Feb 16 '16 at 19:12
  • Like: He is the best. How can I pronunce it fast and clearly? – user160702 Feb 17 '16 at 8:43
  • One common way might be to blur them both into a single sound and trust the audience will understand through context - "Is the car ready?" might become "izza car ready?" – user11628 Feb 17 '16 at 18:25
  • Skill and daring. At least, that's how I do it. Seriously though, if you are able to say each word clearly on its own then practice putting them together slowly and build up speed over time. It is very common for "the" to follow "is", so all native speakers have had a lot of practice saying it. (Having said that, I've just been trying it, and it doesn't feel like my tongue is moving very far or fast.) – nnnnnn May 20 '16 at 8:16
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You might be sticking your tongue out too far on the "th". For me this transition from "z" to "th" is a very slight forward movement of the tongue, and doesn't require moving my teeth at all.

Edit: I've been trying it over and over, and I think for the plosive effect on the "th" you need to open your teeth slightly. However, it's definitely not necessary to put your tongue all the way in between your upper and lower teeth.

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