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English Consonants

English consonants

When it comes to English Consonants, they are sounds that we produce without having to use our vocal tract. That is, consonants are all sounds that are not vowels.

Contrary to vowels in English, our consonants are far more regular (although not entirely) and for the most part, they are intuitive for learners. Although there are certain things you’ll need to work on, such as, for example, aspiration of

  • /p/
  • /t/

And,

  • /k/

as well as the different sounds for some letters, you should be able to pronounce consonant sounds in English correctly without too much practice.

The fairly regular nature of consonants in English

Consonants in English are not completely regular, but they are, however, much more intuitive than vowels. Common letters such as g, s, b, t etc., usually only have between 1 and 3 sounds.

Our objective for this section of the course is to teach you all the ins and outs of consonants in English, how to pronounce them correctly, and which letters are associated with which sounds.

For the most part, your intuition should lead you to the correct pronunciation, so this chapter shall serve as somewhat of a guide.

Let’s take a look at a few examples of some minor irregularities (all of which we shall work on in this chapter) one can find when it comes to consonants in English.

The letter g has 2 different sounds:

/g/ –

  • Guy – /gaɪ/
  • Get – /gɛt/

/ʤ/ –

  • Change – /ʧeɪnʤ/
  • Vegetable – /ˈvɛʤtəb(ə)l/

Exception* /ʒ/; this sound for the letter g is not very common. I.e.,

/ʒ/ –

  • Genre – /ˈʒɑːŋrə/

English Consonants

Another vital thing we shall work on when it comes to consonants in English is that of “aspiration”. Aspiration consists of making a strong burst or expulsion of air when producing the consonant sounds /p/, /t/ and /k/. If you don’t aspirate when it’s necessary, you may be misunderstood, so it’s important to get it right from the get-go.

For example, we aspirate the consonant sounds: /p/, /t/ and /k/.

This symbol (h) represents the aspirated sound

/p/ –

  • Hope – /həʊph/
  • Help – /hɛlph/

/t/ –

  • Talk – /thɔːkh/
  • Translate – /thrænsˈleɪth/

/k/ –

  • Work – /wɜːkh/
  •  Cat – /khæth/

To sum up

Here we have made a quick mention of just a couple of consonant-related lessons that are included in this chapter.

In the following sections, we shall endeavour to tackle all things consonants related in English.

We’ll learn which letters take which consonant sounds. And most importantly, we’ll learn how to pronounce English consonant sounds correctly. Stay tuned. 

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