What is the difference between ‘cloth’ and ‘clothe’? How does the final ‘e’ change the pronunciation? And what about clothes? You can simplify ‘clothes’ by dropping the TH sound and making it sound like ‘close’.
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I recently received an email: Hi Rachel. I have a question concerning the following three words in English: cloth, clothe, clothes. Could you explain the difference between the pronunciation of these three words? Thank you.
Gladly. And I’m actually going to throw a fourth word in there, the plural of cloth. So let’s start with cloth. The vowel sound is the aw as in law, and the th sound is unvoiced. Cloth. The plural can be pronounced two different ways. The first with an unvoiced ending, cloths, and that is the ‘ths’ sound which I already went over in the blog, uh, Months. However, it can also be voiced at the end, which would be cloths. Thz, thz.
Now, if you and an ‘e’ to make the verb, clothe, you will notice that the th as in ‘cloth,’ now becomes a ‘th,’ clothe, so the TH is now voiced. However, it also changes the vowel sound. The vowel is now the oh as in ‘no’: clothe. Cloth, clothe.
Clothes, which is the noun of what we wear: that can also be pronounced two ways. The, I would say, ‘official’ pronunciation would be clothes, in which you have the oh as in ‘no,’ thz, the voiced TH and zz ending. However, it wouldn’t be unheard of to drop the th sound altogether: clothes, clothes. And then it becomes the exact same pronunciation as the word close, as in, to shut, to close a door.
So the words are: Cloth: aaw-th. Cloths: aaw-ths. Or, cl-aaw-thz. Clothe: cl-ohuu-th, oh-uu-th. Clothes: ohuu-th-z, or, simply, oh-uu-z. Cloth, cloths, clothe, clothes.