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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