If there is a vowel sound after a ‘the’ means that the is pronounced ‘thee’
How to Pronounce “the” in English
Normally, we pronounce “the” with a short sound (like “thuh”). But when “the” comes before a vowel sound, we pronounce it as a long “thee”.
|vowel sound||we write||we say|
|A||the apple||thee apple|
|E||the egg||thee egg|
|I||the ice-cream||thee ice-cream|
|O||the orange||thee orange|
|U||the ugli fruit||thee ugli fruit|
It is important to understand that it is what we say that matters, not what we write. It is the sound that matters, not the letter used in writing a word. So we use a long “thee” before a vowel sound, not necessarily before a vowel. Look at these cases:
|we write||with||we say||with|
|the house||consonant (h)||thuh house||consonant sound|
|the hour||consonant (h)||thee our||vowel sound|
|the university||vowel (u)||thuh youniversity||consonant sound|
|the umbrella||vowel (u)||thee umbrella||vowel sound|
Emphatic the [thee]
When we wish to place emphasis on a particular word, we can use “emphatic the” [thee], whether or not the word begins with a consonant or vowel sound. For example:
A: I saw the [thuh] President yesterday.
B: What! The [thee] President of the United States?
A: Yes, exactly.
This lovely explanation came from http://www.englishclub.com/pronunciation/the.htm
They mispronounce ‘the’ and ‘thuh’ on The Big Bang Theory all of the time on TV. I don’t know if it is being done on purpose or if it is the way they speak. It drives me crazy LOL. We were taught to speak and write proper English and it really bugs me. Col, I think you are 100% correct.
It’s a symptom of TV Internationalisation, it’s an American habit to use “thuh” incorrectly and our kids, bless ’em, pick it up, in the same way that “estuary English” (look it up) is spreading out and covering up regional accents to the extent where you can here kids in Leeds and Manchester sounding like some sort of Mockney Geezer wannabe,