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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Aug 22nd, 2018, 03:48 pm
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DarenJoe1 is on a distinguished road
Default THE OR THUH For Americans

Is it the or thuh when reading out loud from a book?
Do you use only thuh when reading out loud from a book or the?
Do Americans use both pronunciations when reading out loud?
Please explain.
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  #2 (permalink)  
Unread Aug 25th, 2018, 07:34 am
Join Date: Oct 8th, 2006
Location: Milan
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susan53 is on a distinguished road
Default Re: THE OR THUH For Americans

First of all, you need to use phonemic script when talking about pronunciation. I imagine you are asking about the two possible pronunciations for "the" : 1) /iː/ - pronounced as in the word "thee" and 2) /ə/ - which is what I think you mean by "thuh".

Also, it makes no difference if you're reading out loud or just speaking spontaneously - the pronunciation is the same.

The pronunciation /ə/ occurs when the following word starts with a consonant sound - so eg :
the book /ə bʊk/
the car /ə kɑː/
and also the university - because notice that I said a consonant sound, not a letter of the alphabet. And university starts with the sound /j/ which is a consonant : /juːnɪvɜːsɪtiː/. So :
/ə juːnɪvɜːsɪtiː/. Another example is the word usual /juːʒuːl/ :
the usual suspects /ə juːʒuːl sʌspeks/

The pronunciation /i:/ occurs when the following word starts with a vowel sound - so eg :
the egg /iː eg/
the old car /iː ɒld kɑː/

English hates having two vowels together though, so very often a /j/ sound is inserted to join them :
the egg /iːjeg/
the old car /iːjɒld kɑː/

It's really the same as the choice between the indefinite articles a and an. a comes before consonant sounds:
a book /ə bʊk/
and an comes before vowel sounds :
an old car /ən ɒld kɑː/

But in the case of the definite article (the) it's only the pronunciation that changes. The written word remains the same.

Hope that's clear.
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  #3 (permalink)  
Unread Jun 26th, 2019, 08:50 am
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Posts: 4
AtlantaEI is on a distinguished road
Default Re: THE OR THUH For Americans

Hi DarenJoe1,

While the spelling of "the" never changes, English users will change the pronunciation from "thee" to "thuh." Usually, when pronounced like "thee," the speaker is intending to be more formal. However, there is no definitional difference between the pronunciations; both ways of saying "the" mean the same thing.

Hope this helps!
-Atlanta English Institute
Atlanta English Institute AEI
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