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 b ook
p p lease
v v anilla
  f f ive
th ey
  th irty
d d ish
  t t en
z z ero
  s s ir
g enre
  sh e
j ump
  ch eers
g g ood
  k k ing

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3 comments for “Consonants: voiced and unvoiced

  1. ryakala
    31 July 2014 at 09:45

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

    • lkl
      31 July 2014 at 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 at 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.

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