The article “the” has two pronunciations. It can be either /ði/ or /ðə/.
Most students were taught the rule for choosing the right pronunciation. Unfortunately, it’s easy to forget the most important part.
Test yourself with these two examples:
1. the U.S.
2. the M.R.T.
Which pronunciation should each be?
Were you right?
Many people remember that the pronunciation depends on whether the next letter is a vowel or not. But this is not actually correct.
The pronunciation depends on whether the next sound is a vowel sound or not.
The “U” in U.S. is /ju/. The first sound is not a vowel sound, so “the” is /ðə/.
The “M” in M.R.T. is /ɛm/. The first sound is a vowel sound, so “the” is /ði/.