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Pronunciation of Consonants Sounds (Part 2)

Hello readers, it is time for us to start with the pairs of consonants.
I told you in the last article about the consonant pairs and how they are different from the single consonants.
If you have not read the previous article, click here.

Let’s understand them a little more.
There are 8 pairs of consonants which I personally like to call ‘twins’. This is so because these pairs have only one difference between them, that is, one of them is voiced and the other is unvoiced. This means that all of the parts of the mouth remain at the same place, but in the voiced sound, we add the vibration of the vocal cords.

I hope you remember what voiced and unvoiced sounds are. If not, please read the previous article.

S.No.

Unvoiced

Voiced

1 /p/

Pen, Platform, Hopping, Stop, Sip

/b/

Ball, Beauty, Fabulous, Sob, Crab

2 /t/

Tree, Timber, Tattoo, Fat, Nest

/d/

Damp, Duty, Cradle, Fraud, Hard

3 /ʈʃ/

Channel, Chamber, Ketchup, Fetch, Church

/dʒ/

Jam, Jumble, Graduate, Large, Sage

4 /k/

Kite, Camp, Frankly, Fake, Seek

/g/

Guard, Game, Organize, Flag, Bag

5 /f/

Fan, Food, Awful, Staff, Cough

/v/

Van, Vanish, Favorite, Save, Carve

6 /s/

Soft, Swim, Flask, False, Grass

/z/

Zoom, Zip, Crazy, Buzz, Freeze

7 /ʃ/

Ship, Shape, Fresher, Fish, Crash

/ʒ/

Treasure, Seizure, Exposure, Pleasure, Vision

8

/θ/

Thank, Thread, Third, Seventh, Oath

/ð/

The, That, Them, Other, Smooth

Organs of speech

So let’s see how these sounds are related. [click on “speech organ ” link to see the above image any time for help]

Note: Remember the all the words are a little exaggerated to help you hear the sound clearly. In reality the sounds are  produced  softly and blend with other words easily.

  • /p/ – Unvoiced

    • Press your lips together and then release them suddenly with a gush of air coming out of the mouth. The tongue stays at a resting position.  [Speech Organs]
    • Examples – Pen, Platform, Hopping, Stop, Sip
    • You will notice that when the sound is at the end of a word, it is not heard much.
  • /b/ – Voiced

    • we pronounce this sound in the exact same manner as /p/, but it is voiced, which means that the vocal cords also vibrate. As the vocal cords vibrate, the flow of the air decreases and we have a /b/.
    • Examples – Ball, Beauty, Fabulous, Sob, Crab

  • /t/ – Unvoiced

    • The upper and the lower teeth come together to touch at the tips. The tongue touches the alveolar ridge, then suddenly slides backwards and releases the air.  [Speech Organs]
    • Examples – Tree, Timber, Tattoo, Fat, Nest
  • /d/ – Voiced

    • The teeth and the tongue stay at the same place as /t/, only vocal cords’ vibration is added.
    • Examples – Damp, Duty, Cradle, Fraud, Hard

  • /ʈʃ/ – Unvoiced

    • The lower teeth are just behind the upper teeth, just like when we chew our food. Also, the blade of the tongue touches the alveolar ridge and then slides downwards releasing the air slowly. The air flows through the teeth and produces the sound. The lips are rounded a little.  [Speech Organs]
    • Examples – Channel, Chamber, Ketchup, Fetch, Church
  • /dʒ/ – Voiced

    • Same as /ʈʃ/ with the addition of vocal cords.
    • Examples – Jam, Jumble, Graduate, Large, Sage

  • /k/ – Unvoiced

    • The back of the tongue touches the hard palate and then slides downwards releasing the air out. The mouth opens a little more in the process.  [Speech Organs]
    • Examples – Kite, Camp, Frankly, Fake, Seek
  • /g/ – Voiced

    • Same as /k/ with the addition of vocal cords.
    • Examples – Guard, Game, Organize, Flag, Bag


  • /f/ – Unvoiced

    • The upper teeth touch the lower lip (lightly) and the air is released slowly from the spaces between the teeth and lip.  [Speech Organs]
    • Examples – Fan, Food, Awful, Staff, Cough
  • /v/ – Voiced version of /f/

    • Examples – Van, Vanish, Favourite, Save, Carve

  • /s/ – Unvoiced

    • What sound does a snake make? This is the same sound – ssssss…
    • The upper and the lower teeth meet and the tongue rests behind the lower teeth. The air passes through the spaces between the teeth to create this sound.  [Speech Organs]
    • Examples – Soft, Swim, Flask, False, Grass
  •  /z/ – Voiced /s/

    • Examples – Zoom, Zip, Crazy, Buzz, Freeze

  • /ʃ/ -Unvoiced

    • Try a simple shhhh….with the finger on your lips!!!
    • The upper and lower teeth will meet just like when we chew your food. The lips will curl to make a pout and the tongue will move up towards the alveolar ridge, but will not touch it. The little space between the alveolar ridge and the tip of the tongue will let the air escape.  [Speech Organs]
    • Examples – Ship, Shape, Fresher, Fish, Crash
  • /ʒ/ – Voiced

    • Just add a little vibration to /ʃ/ and you get /ʒ/. (This is a tricky consonant sound for many)
    • Examples – Treasure, Seizure, Exposure, Pleasure, Vision

  • /θ/ -Unvoiced

    • This is one of the trickiest sounds in consonants for non-native English speakers. This sound is very close to/ʃ/ sound and can sometimes be mispronounced. Just pay attention to the way it is pronounced.
    • The tip of the tongue rests between the upper and lower lip lightly so that the teeth are not biting the tongue. In this manner, the tongue will be loosely kept between the teeth and the air can pass easily through the space between the tongue and the teeth.  [Speech Organs]
    • Examples – Thank, Thread, Third, Seventh, Oath
  • /ð/ – Voiced /θ/

    • Examples – The, That, Then, Other, Smooth


The best exercise to see and understand the difference between the voiced and unvoiced consonants is given below.

All you have to do is start with the unvoiced sound and transition into the voiced sound and you will be able to feel the difference between the 2 consonants.

Listen to the audio carefully to be able to hear the difference and practice in the same manner. It will be great if you record yourself while practising so that you can listen to yourself and observe if you are pronouncing correctly, otherwise, you might think you are pronouncing right but in reality…noooooo…

Pronounce the 4 pairs of consonants mentioned below in a loop –

/p,b,p,b,p,b/, /t,d,t,d,t,d/, /ʈʃ,dʒ,ʈʃ,dʒ,ʈʃ,dʒ,/, /k,g,k,g,k,g/ (repeat as many times as you like)

For the remaining 4 pairs of consonants, you have to transition between the sounds without a break in between. If you don’t pronounce these sounds in continuation, it might not help much. The sounds are –

/f,v/, /s,z/, /ʃ,ʒ/, /θ,ð/ (repeat as many times as you like)

Here is a video to give you some visual help.

Have any questions? Ask in the comment section.

Next, we will get to know vowel sounds. Do you know how many vowel sounds are there in English?

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