The and thee and so much confusion

Hi, there! Jaimin has sent a question to me. He says that he wants to do something that would make his teacher happy, he wants to write a poem for her or something like that. He wants me to help him. Well, Jaimin, poetry comes from heart, so you write what you feel like and that will become poetry. Also, I think your teacher will be happy if you work hard and get good results. Most teachers become exceedingly happy with just that, Jaimin. I am sure your teacher will be happy with that too.

Okay, now the other day, during one of my classes, a student remarked, “Madam, I have noticed that at times you pronounce ‘the’ as ‘the’ and at other times, you pronounce ‘the’ as ‘thee’. What is the difference between the two sounds?

The difference between the two sounds is that when ‘the’ comes before the words that begin with a consonant (all the letters, leaving out the letters [vowels] – a, e, i, o, u), ‘the’ is pronounced as ‘the’, but when the ‘the’ comes before the words that begin with a vowel sound- then the ‘the’ is pronounced as ‘thee’.

Example: The books (‘the’ is pronounced as ‘the’)

The aero planes (‘the’ is pronounced as ‘thee’)

The hours (‘the’ is pronounced as ‘thee’)

Please remember that the article ‘an’ is used before the words that begin with a vowel sound and not the words that spell with a vowel. So, it is:

  • An honest man (‘h’ is not a vowel, but the word ‘honest’ is pronounced with an ‘o’ which is a vowel, therefore, an ‘an’)
  • A European (‘e’ is a vowel, but the sound is of ‘y’ which is a consonant, therefore, an ‘a’)

All these things (pronunciations and the various differences in them) come with practice, keep practicing and you will soon get the hang of most of the things. Be conscious, keep learning and keep using all that you learn every day.

Another query:

Mitali says that her teacher taught them not to use ‘ing’ with certain verbs, but she says that she gets very confused, when she hears people using ‘ing’ with these verbs all the time.

Mitali, as per the rule ‘ing’ is not used with verbs of perception. Like- love, hate, like, understand, know… However, English is constantly changing and adapting and today, the use of ‘ing’ or the progressive form with some of these verbs is accepted worldwide. It is, now, common to say- “I hope you’re understanding the lesson.” Or “She has started liking the classes.”

These are some modern changes to English; you may have people who speak pure English not appreciate these changes and may even look down upon such complete lack of respect for the traditional rules of grammar, but what to do— change is something that cannot be stopped.

The last query comes from Sudeep:

He wants to know the difference between hog and eat.

Sudeep, hog is actually a pig. However, informally, it is used for someone who eats too much, more than his or her share and more than what is required.


  • He is a hog, he ate his own pizza and then took a bite from everyone else’s pizza.
  • Don’t hog like that you will get an upset stomach.

This is it for today.

Bye for now.

Key in your mails to me on:

Keep smiling…



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