Consonants: voiced and unvoiced

Many consonant sounds come in pairs. For example, P and B are produced in the same place in the mouth with the tongue in the same position.

The only difference is that P is an unvoiced sound (no vibration of the vocal cords) while B is a voiced sound (vocal cords vibrate). Put your hand on your throat as you say the pairs below to feel the difference.

Note that the first pair of consonants in the table (p, b) is produced at the front of the mouth. Each pair shifts further back with the last pair (k, g) being produced in the throat.

The consonant sounds are represented using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). The words in parentheses represent phonetic transcriptions. Click on the examples below to hear these consonant sounds. Pay special attention to the letters in bold.

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IPA examples   IPA examples
voiced unvoiced
b book
(bk)
p please
(pliz)
 
v vanilla
(vnIl)
  f five
(faIv)
 
they
(eI)
  thirty
(ti)
 
d dish
(dI)
  t ten
(tn)
 
z zero
(z)
  s sir
(s)
 
genre
(nr)
  she
(i)
 
jump
(mp)
  cheers
(s)
 
g good
(gd)
  k king
(kIŋ)

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3 Responses

  1. ryakala 31 July 2014 / 09:45

    In British English pronunciation Some of the consonants are different from American English…..how can we differnciate both ….because it will help us for betterment…..

    • lkl 31 July 2014 / 18:09

      You’ll need to find a site written by a British English speaker. This site teaches only American English, because that’s what I speak.

  2. Adam Holmes 13 April 2015 / 11:24

    The actual consonants are the same, although in the US it’s more common than the UK to use (almost a) d for non-initial t; for example butter = budder in US (in comparison). Spellings / pronunciations / vowels differ obviously.