Pronounce TH 126

Fourth, Fifth, Sixth...

I had a message about ordinal numbers and, specifically, the pronunciation of the TH sound in them like in “fourth“. It’s a great question! In this episode, I go over what ordinal numbers are and give my thoughts on pronouncing them.

Be sure to check out next week’s episode (the link will be here) with Pronunciation With Emma. She’s great at answering these kinds of questions!

Ordinal or Cardinal Numbers

Ordinal Numbers are the ‘normal’ numbers like: one, two, three, four, five…

Cardinal Numbers count the position of something: first, second, third, fourth, fifth

Numbers ending in 1 use “st”: first, twenty first…

Numbers ending in 2 use “nd”: second, twenty second…

Numbers ending in 3 use “rd”: third, twenty third…

All other numbers end in “TH”: fourth, twentieth, sixteenth…

Can Native Speakers Pronounce 'TH'?

You may have noticed this is something I struggle with too. I’m terrible at the TH sound and I always have been.

I tend to pronounce TH as F. I used to be quite self-conscious about this, but I now realise it’s actually quite common in many accents, such as cockney.

So I’m saying this to reassure you that it’s not the end of the world if you can’t do it. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend using the F pronunciation, but perhaps you can do that rather than avoiding the words, of course.

It’s actually quite exciting because I’m training myself to say TH along with some of you guys! We’re in the same boat now.

How to Pronounce 'TH'

My current technique is simply to be aware of this problem and every time I say a TH word, I do my best to pronounce it properly. I’ve noticed I’m making gradually progress and sometimes have been able to do it quite well. It’s not consistent though and it depends on how much I’m paying attention to what I’m saying.

I recommend watching Emma’s video below for some help.


  • Pat on the back – A congratulations
  • To be in the same boat – To be in the same position as someone else
  • To take what someone says with a grain of salt – To not believe everything that someone says

“Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential.” – John Maxwell

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