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1 American English Consonant Sounds Learn with Lloyd! (www.learnwithlloyd.com) Consonant sounds can be divided into two types: sounds are produced without vibration of the vocal cords in the throat. sounds are produced with the vocal cords vibrating -- the same vibration you make when you hum. All vowels and most consonants are voiced. Here is a chart showing eight related pairs of voiceless and voiced consonants. In each column, the upper consonant (p, for example) is voiceless, and the lower consonant (b, for example) is voiced. Consonant: do not Equivalent: pipe babe tight deed cake gargle church judge shush Asian cease zoos thin then fife vivid Here are the remaining consonants, which do not form related pairs: Consonant: do not Consonant: hay * mime noon singing lily roar way yes *May also be represented by Consonants are represented here by International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) symbols. Some IPA symbols are English (Latin) letters, and some are not. IPA symbols represent consonants more precisely than the English alphabet can. A consonant s sound and strength can vary, depending on neighboring vowels, a speaker s style and speed, and regional accent. Be ready to hear a (limited) range of sound qualities for each IPA symbol. This handout features non-technical terms and simplified diagrams of tongue and lip positions.

2 American English Consonant Sounds Learn with Lloyd! (www.learnwithlloyd.com) page 2 Explosive consonants : These sounds explode out of the mouth with a sudden release of breath when followed by a vowel. Try producing them by following these steps: -1- Position your lips and tongue (follow diagrams below if helpful) -2- Create pressure by pushing your breath against your lips/tongue without releasing...yet -3- [Only for voiced ] Begin vibrating your vocal cords and get ready to release your breath -4- [Only when consonant is followed by a vowel] Release your breath (very explosively for voiceless, especially at the beginning of a stressed syllable; more mildly for voiced ) IPA Description Tongue Mouth/Lips Examples Sentence Lips: closed (before release, or when not released) Lips: closed (before release, or when not released) pay happy lap ape pulp bay hobby lab Abe bulb We picked plenty of apples for our picnic on Cape Hope. Building the new bookshelves for the Brooklyn Library was a big job. Tongue: tip touches ridge behind upper teeth Tongue: tip touches ridge behind upper teeth two latter kit thyme pizza do ladder kid dime Hudson Tina Platt will turn twenty-two on Tuesday. I had no idea you were raised in Dublin, Ireland. Tongue: back pushed strongly upward against roof of mouth (in rear) and backward against throat Tongue: back pushed upward against roof of mouth (in rear) and backward against throat caught bicker tax frequent execute got bigger tags guest executive Kathy s success in soccer took her classmates by surprise. Years ago, I had a colleague who grew green onions in her garden. Tongue: presses firmly against upper ridge behind upper teeth and all the way around upper gums and teeth, creating a seal Tongue: presses firmly against upper ridge behind upper teeth and all the way around upper gums and teeth, creating a seal choke searching rich cello situation joke surging ridge educate soldier In March, Charlie watched a nature program on Channel 13. After recovering gradually from a major injury, Jenny has even more energy.

3 American English Consonant Sounds Learn with Lloyd! (www.learnwithlloyd.com) page 3 Hissing consonants : Unlike the explosive consonants, these sounds are created by a steady release of breath. For each sound, the tongue, lips, and teeth create a narrow passage through which your breath flows, creating a hissing sound (friction). IPA Description Tongue Tongue (Alternative) Tongue: tip close to upper ridge; top surface is cupped, with sides pressed up all the way around upper gums and teeth Alternative tongue: arched with top surface close to upper ridge (results in lighter sound) Tongue: tip close to upper ridge; top surface is cupped, with sides pressed up all the way around upper gums and teeth Alternative tongue: arched with top surface close to upper ridge (results in lighter sound) Mouth/ Lips Examples Haitian fashion wash mission sugar chic social Asian fusion massage casual beige pleasure equation Tongue: arched with top surface close to upper ridge; sides pressed up all the way around upper gums and teeth Alternative tongue: tip close to upper ridge; slightly cupped (results in slightly heavier sound and/or whistling sound) Tongue: arched with top surface close to upper ridge; sides pressed up all the way around upper gums and teeth Alternative tongue: tip close to upper ridge; slightly cupped (results in slightly heavier sound and/or whistling sound) Tongue: tip pushes through front teeth Alternative tongue: tip curls down behind lower front teeth; top surface pushes against front teeth NOTE: contact between tongue and upper front teeth is essential for either position Tongue: tip pushes through front teeth Alternative tongue: tip curls down behind lower front teeth; top surface pushes against front teeth NOTE: contact between tongue and upper front teeth is essential for either position sip disarm trace advice science fax cycle zip desire trays advise easy dessert xylophone thought author breath south athlete thick though other breathe southern although this smooth

4 American English Consonant Sounds Learn with Lloyd! (www.learnwithlloyd.com) page 4 Hissing consonants (continued) -- : Gently bite your lower lip with your upper front teeth to make these two sounds: IPA Description Lip/Tongue Lip/Tongue (Alternative) Lips: top of lower lip is lightly bitten by upper front teeth Alternative lips: lower lip is pressed against upper front teeth (inner lip makes contact with Lower teeth) li Lips: top of lower lip is lightly bitten by upper front teeth Alternative lips: lower lip is pressed against upper front teeth (inner lip makes contact with teeth) Examples fairy photograph off often laugh effort vary vote of oven love evoke Breathy consonant : This voiceless sound is just a short burst of breath. IPA Description Tongue Lips Examples Sentence who hotel inherit adhere happy Howard has a history of hilarious haircuts. Nasal consonants : Breath through your nose to create these sounds. Your lips or tongue should block your breath -- no air flows through your mouth until you release the consonant into a following vowel. IPA Description Tongue Lips Examples Sentence Tongue: relaxed Lips: closed (before release, or when not released) Tongue: tip touches ridge behind upper teeth; sides pressed up against upper gums and teeth, creating a seal Tongue: back pushed upward against roof of mouth (in rear) and backward against throat Note: to practice this sound, hum with your mouth closed, then continue humming with your mouth open but with no breath escaping from your mouth -- let your breath flow only from your nose. might simmer dumb hymn mimic night sinner done knack gnat wing singer ringer English* tongue uncle bank anxious Mary maps out methods for managing common emergencies. Nancy knows her nervous cousins never dance alone. *NOTE: ng in some words like English is pronounced with +: finger longer language

5 American English Consonant Sounds Learn with Lloyd! (www.learnwithlloyd.com) page 5 Elastic consonants : Muscular tension in your tongue (for ) or lips (for ) gives you control over these voiced sounds; you can stretch and bend them as you tighten and relax the tension in your tongue or lips. Let your breath flow steadily around your tongue (for ), over your tongue (for ), or through the lips (for ). IPA Description Tongue Lips Tongue/Lip Alternative Tongue: pushed hard against back of upper front teeth Alternative tongue: curled up slightly and pushed hard against ridge behind upper teeth (NOT curled far back with tip touching roof of mouth) Tongue: Back is high, tense; back sides push hard upward against back teeth; tip retracted, tense, midway between teeth, not touching any other mouth part Alternative lips: slightly rounded, slightly protruding Tongue: slightly tense and raised in back; tip touching or close to lower ridge Lips: rounded; slightly protruding Tongue: arched, pushed strongly forward; top is very close to roof of mouth Lips: relaxed, slightly parted Alternative lips: slightly stretched Examples light collect cloud lime play glass right correct crowd rhyme pray grass woman quick language suite one yesterday union billion Europe music beauty When appears at the end of a word, try to avoid these common errors DON T do this with final Don t allow your lips to become rounded -- this makes final sound like consonant or vowel Don t allow your tongue to relax and lose contact with your upper front teeth -- this makes final sound unfinished and unclear Do this with final Keep your lips relaxed and spread. Practice: ball, fall, doll bowl, soul, whole owl, foul, towel duel, pool, rule apple, battle, final Push your tongue hard against your upper front teeth. Practice: Mel will call Bill. What a dull legal file! They filmed a little girl on a whale. We ll probably travel on the shuttle.

6 American English Consonant Sounds Learn with Lloyd! (www.learnwithlloyd.com) page 6 Comparative Chart: Example Words Use this chart to explore differences between consonant sounds in initial, middle, and final positions (beginnings, middles, and ends of words). Also, start noticing silent consonants (crossed out in the examples below); in many words, these consonants are not pronounced at all! Start your own list of words with consonant sounds and silent consonants that you want to practice and remember. Initial Middle Final Silent peas open cap psychology, raspberry, receipt bees obey cab debt, subtle, climb tip attune sat soften, castle, ballet dip adopt sad handsome, Wednesday coat account back know, muscle, indict goat ago bag gnarled, neighbor, foreign try* achieve etch yacht dry* adjust edge Shaw fishing mesh Zsa Zsa** fusion mirage s seal racer place island, aisle, debris zeal razor plays thin nothing bath months (Λ)*** this clothing bathe asthma, clothes ()*** feel surface proof veal service prove heal behavior honest, ghost, exhibit mime omit sum/some nine annoy sun/son autumn, condemn, column singer sung load pillow deal half, talk, walk road arrow **** Mrs. ( or ) well awake **** who, write, answer yell beyond **** * tr combinations are usually pronounced : try, tree, travel, train, trip, truck, transportation dr combinations are usually pronounced : dry, drip, drop, droop, drive, drove, drug **First name of 20 th century actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, whose Hungarian name can be pronounced in English with initial. However, no native English words begin with. ***In some words, three consonants together (CCC) can be simplified by not pronouncing the middle consonant (CCC) -- Λ is a common example (Λis also possible, but takes extra effort); occasionally, two consonants together (CC) are sometimes simplified by dropping the earlier consonant (CC) -- is easier to say than, especially in fast speech. ****Final,, and sounds are considered vowels: car = ɚ now = may =

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