A Complete Guide to the 24 Consonant Sounds of English

A Complete Guide to the 24 Consonant Sounds of English

Introduction

The air which is coming from the lungs with restrictions is called consonants.

As you already know that there are 24 letters of the alphabet in the English language. The 24 letters of the alphabet produce 44 sounds of English. Among the 44 sounds, there 12 Pure Vowel sounds (monopthongs), 8 Diphthongs, and 24 Consonant sounds.

In this post, you will learn the sounds and symbols of 24 Consonant sounds along with examples.


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The 24 Consonant Sounds:

Bilabial Plosives: /p/, /b/

  • The soft palate is raised and the nasal resonator shut off.
  • The air – stream is blocked by closing the lips.
  • Lung air is compressed behind this closure.
  • When the lips are opened, the air suddenly escapes
  • with force and an explosive sound is produced.
  • The vocal cords are held apart of /p/. They are made to vibrate for /b/

Definition:

  • /p/ is a voiceless bilabial plosive.
  • /b/ is a voiced bilabial plosive.

Example:

/p/
pin / pɪn /
spin / spɪn /
nip / nɪp /

/b/
bag / bæg /
rub / r˄b/

Click here to watch the video on the / p / sound.
Click here to watch the video on the / b / sound.


Alveolar Plosives: /t/, /d/ 

  • The soft palate is raised and the nasal resonator shut off.
  • The air - stream is blocked by raising the tongue to touch the alveolar ridge.
  • Lung air is compressed behind the closure.
  • When the tongue is removed from the alveolar ridge, the air suddenly escapes with force and an explosive sound is produced.
  • The vocal cords are wide apart for /t/. They are made to vibrate for /d/.

Definition:

  • /t/ is a voiceless alveolar plosive.
  • /d/ is a voiced alveolar plosive.

Example:


/t/
torn / tɔ:n /
stop / stɒp /
caught / kɔ:t /

/d/
dawn / dɔ:n /
leader / li:dǝ/
hard / ha:d /

>> Click here to watch the video on the /t/ sound.
>> Click here to watch the video on the /d/ sound.



Post Alveolar Affricates - /tʃ/, /dƷ/

  • The soft palate is raised and the nasal passage shut off.
  • The air stream is blocked by raising the tip of the tongue to touch the back part of the teeth ridge.
  • The front of the tongue is raised towards the hard palate.
  • When the closure is released slowly, the air escapes in a diffused manner over the surface of the tongue so that friction occurs.
  • The lip protrusion is present
  • The vocal cords are wide apart for /tʃ/ and they are made of vibrate /dƷ/.

Definition:

  • /tʃ/ is a voiceless post – alveolar affricate.
  • /dƷ/ is a voiced post – alveolar affricate.

Spellings:

/tʃ/
ch – church / tʃ˄tʃ/, chalk / tʃa:k/
tch – match / mætʃ/, watch / wɔ:tʃ/
t – nature / neɪtʃə/
ti – question / kwestʃən/


/dƷ/
j – jump / dƷ˄mp/, judge / dƷ˄dƷ/
g – gender / dƷendə/, age / eIdƷ /
dge – bridge / brɪdƷ /, judgement / dƷ˄dƷmənt/

>> Click here to watch the video on the /tʃ/ sound.
>> Click here to watch the video on the /dƷ/ sound.

Velar Plosives /k/, /g/

  • The soft palate is raised and the nasal resonator shut off.
  • The air stream is blocked by raising the back of the tongue to touch the soft palate.
  • Lung air is compressed behind the closure.
  • When the tongue is lowered from the soft palate the air suddenly escapes with force and an explosive sound is produced.
  • The vocal cords are wide apart for /k/ they are made to vibrate for /g/.

Definition:

  • /k/ is a voiceless velar plosive.
  • /g/ is a voiced velar plosive.

Spellings:

/k/
k – king / kɪŋ /
c – cart / ka:t/
ch – character /kærǝktǝ/
qu – conquer /kɒŋkǝ/

/g/
g – go / gǝʊ /


Example:

/k/
king / kɪŋ /
skip / skɪp/
weak / wi:k /

/g/
go / gǝʊ/
big /bɪg /
hunger / h˄ŋgǝ /

>> Click here to watch the video on the /k/ sound.
>> Click here to watch the video on the /g/ sound.


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Labio-dental Fricatives /f/, /v/

  • The soft palate is raised and the nasal passage shut off.
  • The inner surface of the lower lip makes light contact with the upper teeth
  • The escaping air produces friction.
  • The vocal cords are wide apart for /f/
  • They are made to vibrate for /v/

Definition:

  • /f/ is a voiceless labio-dental fricative
  • /v/ is a voiced labio-dental fricative.

Spellings:

/f/
f – fan / fæn/, fit / fɪt/
ph – phone / fǝʊn/
gh – laugh / lɔ:f/, tough / t˄f/
ff – coffee / kɒfi:/

/v/
v – vivid / vɪvɪd/
f – of /ɒv/
ph – nephew / nevju:/

>> Click here to watch the video on the /f/ sound.
>> Click here to watch the video on the /v/ sound.


Dental Fricatives /ɵ/, /ð/

  • The soft palate is raised and the nasal resonator shut off.
  • The top of the tongue is held close to the upper teeth.
  • There is firm contact between the rims of the tongue and the upper side teeth.
  • The air escapes through the narrow passage causing friction.
  • The vocal cords are wide apart for /ɵ/ they are made to vibrate for /ð/
  • The lip position will depend upon the adjacent vowel.

Definition:

  • /ɵ/ is a voiceless dental fricative.
  • / is a voiced dental fricative.

Spellings:

/ɵ/
th – think / ɵɪŋ /, method / meɵəd /

/ð/
th – this / ðɪz /, father / fa:ðə/, with / wɪð/
the – breath / bri:ð/

>> Click here to watch the video on the /ɵ/ sound.
>> Click here to watch the video on the /ð/ sound.


Alveolar Fricatives /s/, /z/

  • The soft palate is raised and the nasal resonator shut off.
  • The top and blade of the tongue make light contact with the alveolar ridge.
  • The side rims of the tongue are in close contact with the upper side teeth.
  • The airstream escapes through a narrow passage at the point of articulation thereby causing friction.
  • There is very little opening between the teeth
  • The lips are spread.
  • The vocal cords are wide apart for /s/ and they are made to vibrate for /z/.

 Definition:

  • /s/ is a voiceless alveolar fricative.
  • /z/ is a voiced alveolar fricative.

Spellings:

/s/
s - sits / sɪts/, sing / sɪŋ /
c - cycle / saɪkl/, place / pleɪs /
x - axe / æks /
ss - pass / pa:s /
sc - science / saɪns /

/z/
z - zebra / zi:bra:/, zoo / zu:/
s - rose / rǝʊz/
ss - scissors / sɪz3:s/

>> Click here to watch the video on the /s/ sound.
>> Click here to watch the video on the /z/ sound.

Palate – Alveolar Fricatives /ʃ/, /Ʒ/

  • The soft palate is raised and the nasal resonator shut off.
  • The top of the tongue makes light contact with the alveolar ridge.
  • The side rims of the tongue are in contact with the upper side teeth.
  • The airstream escapes through a wide passage between a more expensive area of the tongue and the roof of the mouth.
  • The vocal cords are wide apart for /ʃ/ they are made to vibrate for /Ʒ/

Definition:

  • /ʃ/ is a voiceless palate – alveolar fricatives
  • /Ʒ/ is a voiced palate – alveolar fricatives

Spellings:

/ʃ/
Sh – ship / ʃɪp/, wash / wa:ʃ/
si – Asia / eɪʃɪə/
ci – social / səʊʃɪəl/
sci – conscious / kɒnʃəs/
ti – patience / peɪʃns /
s - sugar / ʃʊgə /
ch – moustache / mʊstæʃ/
sch – schedule / ʃedju:l/


/Ʒ/
sure – leisure / leƷə/
si – confusion / kɒnfju:Ʒn/
ge – vamoʊlage /
s – vision / vɪƷn /
z – sezure / si:Ʒə/

>> Click here to watch the video on the /ʃ/ sound.
>> Click here to watch the video on the /Ʒ/ sound.


Bilabial Nasal /m/

  • The soft palate is lowered. So that the lung air can pass through the nose freely.
  • The lips are in firm contact with each other to form a closure as for /p/, /b/.
  • The tongue is held in a neutral position.
  • The vocal cords vibrate, producing voice.

Definition:

  • /m/ is a voiced bilabial nasal.

Spellings:

m – may / meI/, summer / s˄mə/, aim /eim/

Examples:

man / mæn /
demand / dɪmænd /
seem / si:m /

>> Click here to watch the video on the /m/ sound.


Alveolar Nasal /n/

  • The soft palate is lowered so that the lung air can pass through the nose freely.
  • The lip of the tongue is in contact with the teeth ridge to form a closure as for /t/, /d/.
  • The lip position depends upon that of adjacent vowels.
  • The vocal cords vibrate, producing voice.

Definition:

  • /n/ - is a voiced alveolar nasal.

Spellings:

n – now /naʊ/, noon / nu:n/
nn – funny / f˄nɪ /
kn – know / knəʊ /
gn – sign / saɪn /
pn – pneumonia / nju:məunjə/


Examples:

night / naɪt /
dinner / dɪnə /
sun / s˄n /

>> Click here to watch the video on the /n/ sound.


Velar Nasal /ŋ/

  • The soft palate is lowered so that the lung air can pass through the nose freely.
  • The back of the tongue is in contact with the velum to form a closure as for /k/, /g/.
  • The lip position depends upon that of the preceding vowel.
  • The vocal cords vibrate, producing voice.

Definition:

  • / is a voiced alveolar nasal.

Spellings:

ng – king / kɪŋ /, sing / sɪŋ/
nk – sink / sɪŋk/
nx – anxious / æŋkʃəs/
nc – uncle / ˄ŋkl/

>> Click here to watch the video on the /ŋ/ sound.


Glottal Fricative /h/

  • The soft palate is raised
  • The lung air is expelled with considerable pressure.
  • This causes friction.
  • The mouth is held ready for the articulation of the following vowels.
  • The vocal cords are not normally made to vibrate.

Definition:

  • /h/ is a voiceless glottal fricative.

Spellings:

h – hand / hænd/, behave / bɪheɪv/

Example:

heart / ha:t /
behave / bɪheɪɪv /

>> Click here to watch the video on the /h/ sound.


Alveolar Lateral /l/

  • The soft palate is raised and the nasal passage is shut off completely.
  • The tip of the tongue is in contact with the upper teeth ridge.
  • There is a partial closure in the middle of the mouth.
  • The lung air escapes along the sides of the tongue.
  • The vocal cords vibrate, producing voice.

Definition:

  • /l/ is a voiced alveolar lateral.

Spellings:

l – live / lɪv/, felt / felt/
ll – fill / fɪl/
lk – milk / mɪlk/
ld – filed / fi:ld/, lm – film / fɪlm/

Example:

live / lɪv /
silly / sɪlɪ /
apple / æpl /

>> Click here to watch the video on the /l/ sound.


Post-alveolar Frictionless Continuant /r/

  • The soft palate is raised and the nasal passage shut off.
  • The top of the tongue is held close to the rear part of the teeth ridge.
  • The back rims of the tongue are in contact with the upper molars.
  • The tongue assumes a concave shape.
  • The lung air escapes freely, without friction.
  • The lip position will depend largely on that of the following vowel but they are usually somewhat sounded.
  • The vocal cords vibrate, producing voice.

Definition:

  • /r/ is a post-alveolar frictionless continuant.

Spellings:

r – red / red/, bring/ brɪŋ/
rr – carry / kærɪ/
wr – write / wraɪt/
rh – rhyme / raɪm/

Examples:

ring / rɪŋ /
afraid / əfraɪd /
fury / fju:rɪ /

>> Click here to watch the video on the /r/ sound.


Labio-Velar semi-vowel /w/

  • The soft vowel is raised and the nasal passage shut off.
  • The back of the tongue is raised in the direction of the soft palate to a point between close and half-close vowels.
  • The tongue immediately glides away to the positions of the following vowel.
  • The lips are closely rounded. (The lips go-round).
  • The vocal cords vibrate so that voice is produced.

Definition:

  • /w/ is a voiced labio-velar semi-vowel.

Spellings:

w – well / wel/, wet / wet/
wh – why / waɪ/, which / wɪtʃ/
u – quick / kwik/
o – one / w˄n/, once / w˄ns/

Examples:

wash / wa:ʃ /
womb / wɒmb /
away / əweɪ /

>> Click here to watch the video on the /w/ sound.


Palatal semi-vowel /j/

  • The soft palate is raised and the nasal resonator shut off completely.
  • The front of the tongue is raised in the direction of the hard palate to a point between close and half-close vowels.
  • The tongue immediately glides away to the position of the following vowel.
  • The lips are neutral or spread.
  • The vocal cords vibrate to produce voice.

Definition:

  • /j/ is a voiced palatal semi-vowel.

Spellings:

y - yes / jes/, jet / jet/
i – opinion / ɒpɪnjn/
e – hideous / haɪdjes /
u – music / mjuzɪk /
ew – new / nju:/
eau – beauty / bju:tɪ /
ui – suit / sju:t /
eu – feud / fju:d/

Example:

Yet / jet /
beyond / bɪjɔ:nd /

>> Click here to watch the video on the /j/ sound.

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Conclusion

Hope you have learned the 24 Consonant sounds of English in detail. You need to practice these sounds in your day-to-day conversations to get the proper fluency and pronunciation.
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