A Comprehensive List of /th/ Words: Helping Your Child Master Tricky Sounds

th words

If you’ve ever had a conversation with a young child, you’ll know that they often struggle when producing the /th/ sounds. Words like ‘father’ and ‘mother’ often are mispronounced as ‘fa-der’ and ‘mo-der’ and words like ‘think’ end up as ‘fink’. 

This is because these sounds are some of the trickiest that a child can learn. It takes time to learn to control their vocal cords, airflow, mouth and lips to create clear, understandable speech. 

Additionally, there are actually two different versions of the /th/ sound: the voiced /th/ sound (ð) and the voiceless /th/ sound (θ). As the name suggests, we use our vocal cords to produce the first yet don’t need them for the second. 

In this article, we’ll be explaining how your child can properly pronounce these /th/ sounds, share a comprehensive list of /th/ words and then help you put them into practice with phrases, sentences, games, activities and the patented Forbrain headset

Word Lists: /th/ sounds 

Before you start practicing your pronunciation of these tricky sounds, it’s useful to understand what the differences are between the two. To help you, we’ve created a comprehensive list of the most common voiced and voiceless /th/ sounds, dividing them into words that feature this sound at the beginning, middle and end of the word. 

Read through this list of /th/ sounds aloud with your child to better identify the differences and how you produce these sounds. Don’t worry if you feel confused as you go- simply go back through and practice until perfect! 

Word list: voiced /th/ sound (ð)

The voiced /th/ sound is the one that you’ll hear at the beginning of words like ‘the’, ‘them’ and ‘they’. As the name suggests, we use our vocal cords when we articulate the sound.

Initial voiced /th/ words 
(at the beginning of the word)
Medial voiced /th/ words
(in the middle of the word) 
Final voiced /th/ words
(at the end of the word)

Word List: Voiceless /th/ sounds (θ)

When you pronounce the words ‘think’, ‘thick’ and ‘thumb’, you’re using the voiceless /th/ sound. It’s articulated in the same way as the voiced /th/ sound but we do not use our vocal cords.

Initial voiceless /th/ Words
(at the beginning of the word)
Medial voiceless /th/ words
(in the middle of the word) 
Final voiced /th/ words
(at the end of the word)
thank youmarathonsouth

Further /th/ Sound Practice Using Short Phrases and Sentences

Now you’ve practiced the /th/ sounds with your child and learned what the difference is between the two, we can move onto the next step- using these words in short phrases and sentences. 

By doing so, your child will start to expand their skills and master how to transition from these tricky sounds to others, improving their fluency and helping them to use real-life language in context. 

At the same time, you’ll be boosting your child’s confidence, helping them to overcome other speech and language development problems and helping them communicate effectively. 

For best results, our team at Forbrain recommends that you follow this short /th/ sound program: 

  • Start practicing single words that contain the voiced /th/ sound (ð) 
  • Use these single voiced /th/ words with carrier phrases
  • Use short phrases and sentences for the voiced /th/ sound
  • Practice with game and activities
  • Repeat the process with the voiceless /th/ sounds (θ)

Carrier Phrases

Once you’ve practiced the /th/ sound in single words, your child can start using them with short phrases. In the beginning, you should focus on ‘carrier phrases’. 

These are short, easy-to-use, child-friendly phases that you can add your /th/ words to and make simple sentences. 

These include:

  • “I see a…”
  • “I found a…”
  • “I want a…”
  • “He found a…”
  • “She found a…”
  • “I have a…”
  • “He has a…”
  • “She has a…”
  • “I like to…”
  • “He likes to…”

Simply slot a /th/ word into the space provided and create your sentence. For example:

  • “She found a toothbrush”
  • “I like math”
  • “I see a bathtub”

Remember to practice with both voiced and voiceless /th/ sounds to improve fluency and boost your child’s confidence pronouncing these tricky sounds.


Short Phrases and Sentences for the /th/ Sound

Here are some useful short phrases and sentences for both the voiced and voiceless /th/ sounds. Just as before, we’ve divided them according to where this sound appears in the word and started with the voiced /th/ sound before moving onto the voiceless /th/ sound.

Short Phrases for voiced /th/ Sound

Short Phrases: Initial voiced /th/ Short Phrases: Medial voiced /th/ Short Phrases: Final voiced /th/ 
This pictureBig brotherBathe the dog
Those dogsKind motherClothe the baby
They smileCold weatherLoathe cabbage
With themHugging fatherBreathe swimming
It’s theirsBird feather
See thatHands together
The familyLeather chair
Bigger than

Short Sentences for Voiced /th/ Sound

Short Sentences: Initial voiced /th/ Short Sentences: Medial voiced /th/ Short Sentences: Final voiced /th/ 
The doll is hersHe loves his brotherI need to bathe my dog
She isn’t playing with themThe feather is pinkI loathe eating mushrooms
Look at that cat!They said the weather will be cold todayThe black rocks are smooth
I like that dress betterMy mother gave me a hugMy mom helped soothe my pain
The white egg is bigger than the brown oneThe leather chair is uglyA swimmer can breathe after every stroke
The family is holding the posterThe spa was soothingThe baby is starting to teethe
These flowers are for youThe baby chews on a teething toyHer mom needed to clothe her
They won the competitionLet’s put our hands togetherHe used a lathe to shave the wood

Short Phrases for Voiceless /th/ Sound

Short Phrases: Initial voiceless /th/ Short Phrases: Medial voiceless /th/ Short Phrases: Final voiceless /th/ 
Thank you noteBlack pantherWhite tooth
Thick meatBig bathtubHot bath
Very thirstyBirthday partyPlanet earth
Sharp thornOrange toothbrushLong path
Number threeMystery authorMath problem
Thumbs upMassive earthquakePhone booth
Sneaky thiefHealthy eatingSee your breath
Third birthdayBad toothacheFifth person
Noisy thunderBig pythonHead north

Short Sentences for Voiceless /th/ Sound

Short Sentences: Initial voiced /th/ Short Sentences: Medial voiced /th/ Short Sentences: Final voiced /th/ 
I like to eat thick steaksMy bathrobe is nice and softHe took a nice hot bath
The boy was thirsty after runningThe earthquake destroyed the roadWe live on Planet Earth
The thunder was loudThere is nothing in his bagHe is working on a math problem
He is a thiefThey are eating healthy foodThe moth landed on the branch
Today is her third birthdayHer toothache was painfulShe has white teeth in her mouth
The party is on ThursdayMy grandparents are youthfulShe promised to tell the truth
She gave him a thumbs upShe cleaned her bathtubShe could see her breath in the cold
I asked for a thin slice of cakeThe panther is restingIt is a long path through the woods

Games & Activities with /th/ Sounds

The most effective way to help your child learn new things is to make it fun with tailored games and activities that help them practice the voiced and voiceless /th/ sound! 

This helps them learn faster, stimulate their minds, grow in confidence and feel eager to practice with you. 

Enjoy the following interactive games and activities alongside the Forbrain headset and you’ll soon notice a difference. 

Make it Personal to your Child

Start by looking back over the lists of /th/ words and choose the ones that your child is most familiar with or relevant to their lives then make sure you prioritize these. By making them relevant, they’re more likely to master these tricky sounds faster. 

Play ‘The Echo Game’

Look through the following lists of words and practice them, being as silly as you like. You should say the word first then encourage your child to copy you, using the correct pronunciation:

  • Thank You – Say “thank you” throughout the day, using a good “th” sound.
  • Something – Play a guessing game, hiding something behind your back and saying “I have something behind my back” then encourage them to guess. Allow your child to do the same.
  • Mouth/teeth – Make silly faces and say “mouth” as you brush your child’s teeth.

Blow Bubbles

Grab a drink and a straw then encourage your child to blow bubbles. This will help them improve their tongue positioning and how much air they need to produce the /th/ sounds. Once they can do this, encourage them to say /th/ sound words like “clothes”, “mother” and “think” as they blow these bubbles. 

Pop the Balloon

Another great way to practice the correct tongue position and airflow is to get them to hold a balloon in their mouth and encourage them to pop it by exhaling air through their teeth with their tongue in between. Once they can do this, encourage them to practice sounds like “thorn”, “thumb” and “thick” as they do it. 

Use Tongue Twisters

Tongue twisters can be a lot of fun and can also help your child master these sounds. Why not try the following: 

  • “Thirsty throats find things to drink”.
  • “The first thing that they think of is this”
  • “The thirsty crocodile drank some water” 

Use /th/ Words in your Everyday Life

Practice makes perfect! Therefore make sure you’re using as many /th/ words as possible when you’re interacting with your child and encourage them to repeat them.  

Read Books

Reading is key to a child’s language development and hopefully, you’re reading to your child on a daily basis. Whenever you’re looking for a new book, search for something that uses several /th/ words throughout. If your child has learned to read, encourage them to read out loud for extra /th/ sound practice. 

Our favorites include: 

How to Pronounce the Voiced and Voiceless /th/ Sounds

If you can improve your own pronunciation of the /th/ sounds, it will be easier to help your child master them too! That’s why we’ve created this section to explain how these sounds are made. 

When we make any kind of speech sounds, we’re using several parts of our bodies. We send air from our lungs, pass it over our vocal cords and then shape them using our tongue, lips and nose, depending on which sound we want to produce. 

In the case of voiced /th/ sounds, we use our vocal cords whereas for the voiceless /th/ sound, we don’t. 

Here are exercises for each:

Pronouncing the Voiced /th/ Sound (ð)

Place your hand onto your neck where your voice box lies then say the word ‘this’. Do you notice how you feel a vibration just under your hand as you pronounce it? This is what we call a voiced sound. 

You can repeat this exercise using some more common voiced /th/ sounds including ‘mother’, ‘brother’, ‘breathe’ or any of the other words from the word list above, noticing how your tongue and lips are positioned. Did you notice anything?

Pronouncing the Voiceless /th/ Sound (θ)

Repeat the above exercise to explore how you pronounce the voiceless /th/ sound. With your hand on your neck, see if you can feel a vibration. If not, you’ve got this sound exactly right- we don’t use our vocal cords when pronouncing this sound. 

Then repeat with other common voiceless /th/ sounds including “thorn”, “thirsty”, “healthy”, or another sound from the word list we shared earlier. You’ll hopefully notice that, although your vocal cords don’t vibrate when you produce this sound, the position of your tongue and lips are exactly the same. 

In other words, the only difference between the voiced /th/ sound and the voiceless /th/ is simply whether or not your vocal cords vibrate. Easy! 

When you worked through this exercise, you might have noticed how complex speech sound production is, why certain sounds are trickier than others, and why effective articulation requires excellent control over the tongue, lips and airflow. Despite this fact, most children can master both /th/ sounds by the age of around 7. 

If not, try not to panic! Take your time to work through the wordlists, phrases, sentences and games and use the Forbrain headset. You’ll soon see a noticeable improvement! 

How to Produce the /th/ Sounds Correctly

Here’s a quick guide on how to pronounce the /th/ sounds effectively. 

  1. Place your tongue between your front teeth. 
  2. A) For the voiced /th/ sound, allow your vocal cords to vibrate as you push air from your lungs. B) For the voiceless /th/ sound, push air from your lungs but do not allow your vocal cords to vibrate 
  3. Try pronouncing the voiced /th/ word ‘this’, and then the voiceless /th/ sound ‘thirsty’. 

Need extra help? Watch this video from The Speech Scoop to learn how to pronounce the voiced and voiceless /th/ sounds. 

Using Forbrain to Upgrade Sound Practice

Want to help your child master the tricky /th/ sounds in just 10-20 minutes per day?  Use the Forbrain patented audio stimulation headset alongside the wordlists we’ve shared here. 

Powered by an enhanced auditory feedback loop via bone conduction, it helps your child hear those challenging sounds like the voiced and voiceless /th/sounds more clearly. 

When they repeat the sound, they receive instant feedback that boosts motivation, confidence, memory, communication skills, better language learning and even helps expand their vocabulary. 

You’ll see your child’s pronunciation of the /th/ sounds improve in as little as 6-8 weeks and overcome their speech problems. That’s why it’s used by professional speech therapists, specialists, educators and parents alike. 

Buy Forbrain here. 


Final Words

When your child is learning to speak, pronouncing the /th/ sounds can be the trickiest. 

However, by using the comprehensive list of /th/ words, phrases and sentences, playing games and using the scientifically-proven Forbrain headset, you’ll help them improve their articulation, boost their confidence and have fun too!

Charlotte Witts

Charlotte is a linguistics graduate, ESL teacher and parent who is passionate about sharing her expertise in speech therapy, language acquisition and second-language learning so everyone can reach their full potential.

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