Have you noticed how many people do not differentiate the sound of the (thuh) and the (thee)? I have.
It was mentioned as a grammar pet peeve by a blog follower in 2016.
When I hear someone say “thuh only thing … thuh other side … thuh arrival time … thuh entrance,” I consider it a bit clunky, awkward or unrefined. Such pronunciation might not reflect well on the speaker in some circles.
Parts of Speech: The is an article
In terms of parts of speech, the is an article. Its role is to introduce nouns.
When the noun that follows the begins with a consonant — letters with a “hard” sound — you pronounce the as thuh.
Pronounced as thuh:
The girl rode her bicycle to school.
The bicycle disappeared from the rack.
The police wrote a report.
When the noun that follows the begins with a vowel — a, e, i, o, u — you pronounce it as thee.
Pronounced as thee:
The accident occurred at the intersection.
The elevator stopped at the sixth floor.
Tourists descended on the island.
Please set the oven at 350 degrees.
The usher showed us to our seats.
We can count on English to have exceptions. Here they are:
Some words start with a vowel, but they are pronounced with a consonant sound:
You are the (thuh) one I wanted to meet. (one begins with the w sound)
The (thuh) uniform was too large for the cadet. (uniform begins with the y sound)
Some words begin with consonants that are pronounced as vowels:
Did she say the (thee) MBA program was too challenging? (M sounds like em)
May I have the (thee) honor of your company? (h sounds like ah)
Sometimes we pronounce the as thee for emphasis:
It was the (thee) party of the decade!
The movie was the (thee) must-see on everyone’s list.
Parts of Speech: A and An also are articles
A and an share the article category with the, and they also are used before nouns
Use a before nouns that begin with a consonant:
a (uh) meeting
a (uh) luncheon
a (uh) pen
Use an before words that begin with a vowel:
Standard American English does not always have written-in-stone rules for pronunciation. However, it does have guidelines and standards. These suggestions for pronouncing the articles the, a and an are worth considering.
Do you have pronunciation pet peeves? Sent them my way!