Saying F instead of TH

(62 Posts)
jarralass Thu 28-Apr-11 19:55:14


I was just looking at some recent messages, and there was one about speech, and it got me thinking the number of times my DH and I correct our son for not saying TH. Example, one, two, free.......frow the ball....

Yet he says "with" no problem and Thursday ok. Anyone had similar issue, and does it just stop or will he always say it?


Elibean Thu 28-Apr-11 20:09:36

dd1 is pretty much the same. 7 years old, Y2 - she has always had problems making the sound at the beginning of a word, she just can't do it. Will watch your thread with interest!

(dd2 has a problem with 's', and none with 'th' hmm....just for variety!)

Jaspants Thu 28-Apr-11 20:13:17

We had the opposite where DS deliberately started using F instead of TH when he can say it properly - hope he is just trying to fit in and that it will pass

PanicOnTheStreetsOfLondon Thu 28-Apr-11 20:15:23

Also watching with interest. DT1 does this but his twin doesn't do it all. DT1 can say it properly if I correct him, but he really has to concentrate to do it.

I find its a real problem with spellings, he knows that some words like 'the' t start with a th but when he comes across more difficult words he always goes for 'f' or 'v' ie teef or wiv.

I have wondered whether he needs speach therapy or elocution lessons!

sageygirl Thu 28-Apr-11 20:22:51

How old are your DCs? My DD is nearly 5 and often says f instead of th. She calls her child minder Beff instead of Beth. She often says duh instead of the. Hopefully they will all grow out of it at some stage. She can make the proper sounds if reminded. We're not at the spelling stage yet so haven't experienced that.

Hassled Thu 28-Apr-11 20:27:12

It's very very common. DS3 has verbal Dyspraxia - his speech is (most of the time) pretty sorted now, but he cannot differentiate between TH and F. When I raised this as a problem, the SALT said that lots of children without speech disorders would be having the same problem at his age.

But when you notice, correct him. TH has the tongue poking out between the teeth, a different mouth shape for F - get him to work out which it should be, and he'll start to hear the difference more.

Elibean Thu 28-Apr-11 20:41:45

That's helpful, Hassled, thanks. dd is 7.5, and her teacher has asked about it recently - it does interfere with some of her spellings, which are otherwise naturally pretty good. She has always said 'duh' instead of 'the', and as she's bilingual (French/English) we always thought it was a French accent - but now I think its more than that. Will start addressing it, I think, gently.

2BoysTooLoud Thu 28-Apr-11 20:42:27

I think I may still do this sometimes.. blush.

Portoeufino Thu 28-Apr-11 20:44:29

My 7 yo does this when spelling words phonetically that she doesn't know. I blame my southern accent. She too is bilingual french/english. We had friends to visit and were trying to decipher "Maffiou" It was Matthew....blush

mrz Thu 28-Apr-11 20:45:46

I've just had a 23 year old final year teaching student who says "fing" and "fink" and "mouf" so it won't necessarily go away without support.

supadupacreameggscupa Thu 28-Apr-11 20:47:39

My husband always says v instead of th. you hardly notice, but when you do it's really annoying (he talks a bit posh so most people don't notice haha)

jarralass Thu 28-Apr-11 20:57:45

Thanks for your replies, we constantly pull DS (6 years, Yr 1) up for his F instead of TH, but doesn't seem to click. Will keep going though.....

Elibean Thu 28-Apr-11 21:16:44

Just tried talking to dd about it - she got very defensive to start with ('I don't WANT to say 'th', its SPITTY' grin) but then said 'th' without any trouble at all, and surprised herself and ended up laughing. I was relieved to see she could, in fact, pronounce it - clearly just a habit, so will start working on it.

Thanks smile

crazycarol Thu 28-Apr-11 23:07:48

My 52 yr dh is a cockney and does this, apparantly has done it all his life. DD sometimes copies him but in jest rather than by accident.

blackeyedsusan Thu 28-Apr-11 23:51:11

average development, th by 5 1/2 and all sounds by 7 1/2, according to the leaflet I got from the speech therapist.

blackeyedsusan Thu 28-Apr-11 23:54:14

thr is different from th followed by a vowel. they are listed separately in the leaflet.

blackeyedsusan Thu 28-Apr-11 23:56:57

Jarralass, the speech therapist suggests it is better to model (repeat) the word correctly "yes, throw the ball" rather than trying to get them to say it correctly.

mathanxiety Fri 29-Apr-11 00:04:03

Agree with Blackeyedsusan -- Correction just becomes annoying for a child if it happens all the time. It's not going to help and will just add to everyone's frustration levels. Don't be so anxious, and model the correct pronunciation very clearly when you speak.

Maryz Fri 29-Apr-11 00:05:31

Doesn't it depend on whether it is actually a difficulty in making the "th" sound, or whether it is a "regional accent".

Many of the lapses my children have "in" instead of "ing" being the most noticeable one, I pull them up on. I presume if I keep trying they will eventually "speak properly" grin. If they genuinely had difficulty with the sound I would deal with it differently.

I'm Irish, by the way, and one of my pet hates is the word throat pronounced "trouth". FFS, if you can say both the t sound and the th sound, why get them reversed so consistently confused.

Valpollicella Fri 29-Apr-11 00:06:13

Very interesting thread - thanks all.

seeker Fri 29-Apr-11 00:09:44

Don;t correct - model.

And rememebr that it might be a regional thing that he's learning from froends at school - myu ds wrote a birthday card to his friend when he was about 6 - "Happy Birfday, Efan"

He can now, at 10 say "th" whenever he wants to, but chooses not to for protective colouration at school. Fine by me - it's always good to speak another language!

SoloIsApparentlyACougar Fri 29-Apr-11 00:21:25

This totally winds me up too and luckily Ds speaks properly and always has. Dd on the other hand has a lisp and cannot 'th' at all. or 'r' sad makes me very sad, but I can accept that she can't help it, though having said that, I do try to teach her to shape and situate her tongue to say these sounds.

seeker Fri 29-Apr-11 00:22:59

Why on earth doea it make you sad?

It's what they say that's important. Focus too much on how thay say it and they'll stop telling you things!

SoloIsApparentlyACougar Fri 29-Apr-11 00:31:54

It just does seeker. She has fantastic vocabulary for a 4yo and I'm a bit of a stickler for correct English, so to hear her f instead of th tightens my stomach a bit. I am more accepting of it now because I realise that it's the lisp and not just copying her peers. I am grateful that she says little and not li-ule (can't begin to think how to spell that).
Anyway, I'm going to take her to a speech therapist to see if I can help her any more than I am trying to already.

seeker Fri 29-Apr-11 00:42:00

She's 4 and has a "fantastic vocabulary"!

Leave the speech therapists for children who actually have a problem.

I was about 8 before I could reliably say "th" and still have to take a run at some words - fortunately words I don't have to say very often - thistle and isthmus being prime examples! But I was never made to feel that I was somehow talking wrong - I'm sure that would have been very damaging to my confidence.

Honestly, acknoqledge that it's your problem, not hers. Listen to what she's saying and not hwo she's sayingit and relax.

SoloIsApparentlyACougar Fri 29-Apr-11 01:13:22

Thanks for your advice, but I think I'll make my own decision on that smile it's a walk in centre that I'll be taking her to, so I'm not depriving anyone else of an actual appointment. As a matter of fact, I refused to be referred to avoid taking up an appointment.

Gilbo1972 Fri 29-Apr-11 01:55:03

Ok hands up, I have always had this problem!!

I remember my mum always telling me its 'th' not 'f', use your tongue. I remember not really being able to hear the difference and not understanding the different mouth shape. It was only when I was about 25 (eek) I became conscious of it again as an Aussie girl who I worked with said, 'why do you londoners all speak like children?' I didn't know what she meant and she pointed it out and said it was 'sweet'! Well I was devastated and very embarrassed, I didn't realise I still did it. Other than that I have quite a 'posh' accent! ha ha. Anyway it was only when I started doing phonetics (using the Jolly Phonetic system) with my children I actually learnt how to pronounce it properly and can now hear the difference. You pretend you are a naughty clown and stick your tongue out a little and say 'them', then you stick it out a little bit more and say 'thumb' and then have lots of fun by making rude noises with your tongue out and say' ththth'. Even now I sometimes have to make a conscious effort to get it right (when I am tired, had a glass of wine...) but it certainly comes a lot easier!

LadyWellian Fri 29-Apr-11 02:13:35

DD is 11 and has a 'th' in her name, so I do pull her up on it. She can say 'th'; I just think it's easier for her (maybe camouflage, maybe just laziness) not to.

At that age, I'm not sure modelling - 'That's right - swimming is on Thursday' - is much different than just ' Thurs day', which is how I would usually respond to 'I've got swimming on Fursday'.

seeker Fri 29-Apr-11 07:03:41

If you were referred to a speech therapist because your 4 year old said "f" instead of "th" and had no other speech issues then you were badly advised.

SoloIsApparentlyACougar Fri 29-Apr-11 15:08:29

Well, we'll see. I plan on taking professional advice if nothing else.

SoloIsApparentlyACougar Fri 29-Apr-11 15:09:12

And it wasn't so much the f instead of th, it's that she has a considerable lisp.

SDeuchars Fri 29-Apr-11 16:55:59

Lots of people in Sarf Lahndan say F instead of TH - it does not necessarily mean they are uneducated although it can be painful to listen to for those of us from other parts of the UK (where people speak proper wink).

SoloIsApparentlyACougar Fri 29-Apr-11 17:23:02

Painful indeed SD. Most of my friends speak like that... <stomach tightens with the pain >

bessie26 Fri 29-Apr-11 18:53:47

I only found out I did this when I was about 30! My friend's drunk girlfriend mentioned it, until then I had no idea I did it, but was instantly very embarrassed about it!
So I'm trying to re-learn how to say loads of words, I can do ones starting with "th" now, but ones where the sound appears in the middle still catch me out blush
I would say if you want to correct it, do something sooner rather than (30 years) later!

SoloIsApparentlyACougar Fri 29-Apr-11 22:43:17

My thoughts exactly bessie. Slightly more difficult working on a lisp rather than 'just' the omission of correct pronunciation though.

generalhaig Fri 29-Apr-11 23:24:31

dd did this until the start of y3 - she decided that she didn't want to do it any more and practised saying "thirty-three thousand, three hundred and thirty-three" over and over again until she could make the right sound - it took her about three weeks and then she had to concentrate for another few weeks and after that it just became second nature and she doesn't bat an eyelid when faced with 'th' - no speech therapists involved, she just decided that it was time she spoke properly!

ds2 however still says 'f' and he's 11 ... the difference is that dd wanted to stop and he doesn't care ...

Maryz Fri 29-Apr-11 23:48:26

I remember howling with laughter at my cousin blush when he said "I didn't say somefin, I said somefin". We could, despite being Irish, pronounce our th's and our ing's. We felt quite superior about it.

He is a multi-millionaire now: we are all relative paupers. Obviously not pronouncing his th's did him no harm.

I think most children grow out of this on their own. However, I recently came across "Jamie at Home" on television and got excited as you all talk about Jamie Oliver so much. I turned him off halfway through as his speech was so fecking annoying. And the tongue constantly lolling out. Eurgh.

SoloIsApparentlyACougar Sat 30-Apr-11 00:29:23

Funny thing is that I completely love accept the way Jamie Oliver speaks...maybe it's because I like his cooking smile

EasterIgg Sat 30-Apr-11 00:35:10

I did this. At some point in primary school, had a few sessions with a speech therapist. Made me conscious of what I was going and have never done it since.

EasterIgg Sat 30-Apr-11 00:35:11

I did this. At some point in primary school, had a few sessions with a speech therapist. Made me conscious of what I was going and have never done it since.

seeker Sat 30-Apr-11 08:12:25

You know what?

It doesn't matter.

But if it does matter to you, then the worst possile thing you can do is make your children aware of it. If they can't help it, it will make them self conscious about their speech which could be disastrous. If they can help it, it will give them a massive weapon to use against you!

By the way, I have a friend who's child had several speech problems - "s" for "th", "l" for "r" and others. He lad lots of speech therapy because he couldn;t make himself understood. The therapist said that she wasn't even going to do anything with most of the issues becaue they would get better with time and parental modelling. The only one she was concerned about was in a word which started with two consonants, he would only sound the first one - so "spaceman" became "saceman". Se was right. He is 11 now, and while he still has some issues with the double consonants, all the rest have gone by themselves.

crazynanna Sat 30-Apr-11 08:21:26

My DD (age 12) does the opposite. She replaces 'F' with 'TH' in "thinger" for "finger". No idea why!

Beccabell Sun 01-May-11 12:22:07

Hi there
My DD1 stopped this at age 6, and DD2 is starting to get it right now age 6 and a half - she'll get there eventually. I found they just stopped saying f instead of th gradually - and being at school for a couple of years helped. I do pick up on my DD2's mistakes and she corrects herself, but I do it nicely as she's fairly quiet and I don't want to put her off talking to people!
If they are corrected, I think they grow out of it, especially if most of their peers no longer do it.
Don't worry too much - I used to obsess about it with DD1 - she pretty much speaks the Queens English now (except has started to punctuate her speech with "like" every few seconds and use an Australian intonation so that everything sounds like a question - aaghhh!) From one thing to another eh?

manicinsomniac Sun 01-May-11 12:55:45

The fact that there are adults who do this mean that, for some children, it is not something they are just going to 'grow out of on their own'.

I'm a teacher and this subject is raised occasionally in staff meetings, with the dominant opinion being that any child can be taught to say 'th' with enough effort put into it at an early enough age.

Personally, I think a few colleagues are a bit anally retentive about it (getting children to repeat over and over and pulling them up on it every time) but, admittedly, it does seem to work.

We are considering moving the intervention stage downwards from year 3 to year 1.

mrz Sun 01-May-11 13:14:15

It can become a problem when spelling words if the child says "wif" or "wiv" rather than "with" and in the case of my student the children really struggled because she replaced th^ with ^f or v when she read out loud or in a spelling lesson.

Elibean Sun 01-May-11 22:29:33

Yes. The only reason I even think about it with dd is because her teacher said it muddles her with spelling.

Actually, now I know she CAN say 'th' it doesn't bother me so much whether she does or doesn't. I was worried that speaking to her in French (in which there is no 'th' sound) for the first few years of her life had messed up her English confused

dd2, OTOH, has a genuine lisp - which I'm not going to worry about for a while longer as its already better than it was.

igggi Sun 01-May-11 22:40:42

I'm glad my parents didn't choose to ignore this, as I think it took me two speech therapy sessions to fix it. I wasn't physically unable to say th, I just really didn't know the mouth shape to make as I hadn't picked it up when I learned to talk.
Being corrected wouldn't have stopped it, I needed to be taught.

SoloIsApparentlyACougar Mon 02-May-11 00:38:12

Beccabell, from what I've heard from my Dd's peers in nursery, there is no way she's going to improve by being around them; just the opposite I think as they can't even say buTTer or waTer ~ so THing is never going to happen.

tika Thu 21-Jul-11 00:29:08

my son spoke well until a couple of months ago. now he started speaking v instead of th. he has just finished reception. today he was trying to write with and wrote wiv, i almost die. i try to correct him all the time but is difficult not to annoy him in the end. to make things worse we speak portuguese at home and my english accent is ok but not that good. i really don't know what to do to correct him.

he went through the wa (t) er, wa (t) ever phase at nursery and even innit, i spoke to the teacher and between both of us we won this one. he was at 4, doing it on purpose and all that! now i think that is more difficult as in the school teachers have more pupils and each child gets gets less attention. i am really worried

piprabbit Thu 21-Jul-11 00:35:18

The majority people in my area routinely say F instead of TH.
Bother becomes bover
Birthday becomes birfday
and Southend becomes Sarfend.

piprabbit are you from Essex too?
Soufend, berfday...etc. I know many who sound like this..sadly my 4yo still does this and sounds just like her dad!

piprabbit Thu 21-Jul-11 01:01:40

How did you guess? grin.

ATM my 3yo can't distinguish between F, TH or S sounds, oh well.

emlu67 Thu 21-Jul-11 13:53:20

My DS 4 1/2 does it the other way round - using TH instead of F e.g. one, two, three, thor, thive...

He was a very late talker but has a good vocabulary now and this is the only problem but if I ask him to say words correctly he gets very upset. He will be starting Reception in Sept and the teacher knows a lot about speech problems so will mention it to her when he starts.

sparkle12mar08 Thu 21-Jul-11 14:20:01

It matters a lot and first impressions do count. I know full well that how people speak does not necessarily reflect their level of education or their intelligence, but accents and speech patterns do give us clues about people. And missing out or mispronouncing letters is hardly a good thing. It does make people sound less educated than they may well be. My 5yo also occasionally mixes up the ff/th sounds, though he is getting much better and I gently correct every single time I notice it. It's not helped by the fact that my husband can also neither say nor hear the correct 'th' sound.

buteman Sun 30-Dec-12 20:40:21

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

buteman Mon 31-Dec-12 17:24:01

I posted here earlier for the first time about this problem some seem to have. Unfortunately, without intending to advertise or promote any business, I provided a link to what I thought was really helpful and free information to help all those who suffer from this problem and those who wish to help them.
I explained that I had yesterday heard a man who could not seem to say 'death' although he could clearly say 'this', 'those' or 'them'.

He said instead 'deaf' which as I am sure you appreciate, could upset both deaf people and those who had just had a family member or friend die.

I received an email informing me that my post had been deleted. As I had not intended to offend anyone or promote another site I have asked if my link could just be deleted and the rest of the text re-enabled.
I feel quite passionately that this is something which was virtually unheard of when I was younger because children were corrected gently by parents, friends and teachers when they were small children. This simply consisted of consistently and repeatedly saying something like 'No you say '......'

I was so impressed by the method the link showed which seems to be a really sound method of helping even adults to rectify this problem I copied the text and saved it on my computer. I have 5 young grandchildren and want to be sure they can be helped if needed as I know that it can often give the impression that the person is uneducated or unintelligent when I think this is rarely the case.

Also, if you preview any post you make it simply says:
"This is a preview of your new message. If you used any links in your post, they should be working correctly in the preview. If your post is correct, click on "Post Message" at the bottom of the page. Otherwise, you can revise your message." so I had not thought I would have any problem with it.

Elibean Mon 31-Dec-12 18:07:55

dd1 said 'de' instead of 'the' and 'wiv' instead of 'with' from early on. She is bilingual (French) so we assumed it was because of that - to start with - but when it was picked up on by her teacher in Y2, I questioned it a bit more deeply.

(I posted at beginning of this thread, well over a year ago!)

She turned it around in a few weeks, with focused practice - and all I did was ask her to say it correctly every time she read with me, which was pretty much every evening. I had to show her how to stick her tongue out between her teeth to do it, but then she was away on her problem.

dd2, who is now 6, has adopted a lisp ('thocks' instead of 'socks') because, I suspect, her best friend - who is older, and very clever - has one wink

So now we're gently correcting that: I showed her how to keep tongue behind her teeth when she makes the 's' sound, and hey presto.

EcoLady Mon 31-Dec-12 18:54:25

Setting aside all of those who genuinely struggle to pronounce sounds correctly... some children do start to use /f/ or /v/ sounds instead of /th/ as part of developing their own attitude. When teaching year 6, we knew which children to pull up on saying "fir-een" instead of "thirteen". It was a deliberate thing by the child and a very deliberate correction by the teaching staff. We picked up other speech errors, such as "we was going...", or "I done it". It's part of the same attitude and directly impacts on their writing.

buteman Mon 31-Dec-12 20:50:50

Hi All,
Here is the method and please note there is NO promoting of any organization in this.

"Learning the TH Sound All By Itself

I love teaching the TH sound because it is one of the most visual sounds to teach. Model putting your tongue between your teeth while blowing air at the same time. Most children will have no difficulty imitating this action. Then practice this action with and with out voice. Think of it as a loud th and a quiet th. The reason for this is the TH is pronounced with voice in some words like, “that, this and the” and without voice in other words like, “thank you, theater and thongs.”

Practice the TH Sound in Syllables

Once you have had multiple successful productions of the TH sound all by itself try adding a long or short vowel to the TH sound. For example, “they, the, though, tha, thee, thy…” Then try putting the vowel in front of the the sound, for example, “ath, eth, eeth, ith, uth, oath…” Finally try putting the Th sound in the middle of vowels, for example, “atho, ethee, ootha, othu…” Which ever syllable combination your child is the most successful with will tell you whether you want to begin practice with words that begin with TH, end with Th or have Th occurring in the middle.

Practice the TH Sound in Words

If your child did did the best with TH following the vowel you would begin practicing words that end in TH like, “booth, bath, path, north, moth, mouth…” I prefer to practice with a list of at least 20 words. I like to use pictures to make it more fun. Fun ways to use the pictures include making a snake with the pictures with little treats every 3-4 cards, have the child say the name of the picture, if it is correct put it away, if he/she misses the word put it in a pile to practice later. When you have gone through all the words have your child say the ones they missed 5 times correctly before putting them away. You can also play games like memory, go fish, and bingo to keep it fun. You can download the pictures I have created for words beginning with TH as well as words that have TH in the middle and at the end of the word on the worksheets page. Once your child is able to say these words with 80% accuracy or better, try putting them into a sentence.

Practice the TH Sound in Sentences

I use one sentence and have the child insert all their practice words into that sentence. For example the sentence might be, “They both have a ______.” In the blank you would fill in “They both have a bath, They both have a mouth, They both have a north.” Some sentences will make sense and others will not. You can use this as an opportunity to discuss how to make the sentence correct. If you are practicing the TH in the beginning of words you might use the sentence “That is the _____.” If you are practicing the TH in the middle of words you could use the sentence, “My brother wants a ______.” Feel free to make up your own sentences as well.

Practice the TH Sound in Stories

Following successful sentence productions have your child practice the TH sound while retelling simple stories or while reading aloud depending on the ability level of the child. Be sure to follow this outline until you have achieved mastery of the Th sound in all positions of words (beginning, middle and end of words).

Practice the TH Sound in Conversation

Once your child is able to retell stories with good TH production you will find moving the TH into conversation will go pretty smoothly. You may still have to remind your child from time to time but more often you will be pleased to watch them catch themselves and make the correction on their. Before you know it, you’ll forget they ever had a problem with TH."

I hope this is a helpful as I believe it to be.

Karoleann Mon 31-Dec-12 23:41:47

We saw salt for ds1 when he was 5 for the same reason. They don't worry until 7. "th" came without intervention a few months later.

bruffin Mon 31-Dec-12 23:48:15

I only noticed the other day dd 15 cant say th, when she was telling me about a fim called ."four" she was talking about "thor"
DH cant say th either.
Have tried with both of them but neither can say Th.

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