Voicing Consonants

Consonant sounds can be voiced or voiceless. But what does that mean?  How do you know if you are using your voice correctly?

Here’s how you can tell:

Voiced sounds have vibration and Voiceless sounds don’t

First, imagine the sound of a honey bee – make the sound…


Voiced Sound - Vibration

This sound is voiced.

Now, imagine the sound of a snake – make the sound…


Voiceless Sound - No Vibration

This sound is voiceless.

Note that these two sounds are very similar.  The tongue is touching behind the top front teeth.  The only difference is the /z/ is voiced and the /s/ is voiceless.

To check your voicing, place your fingers gently on your neck and make the sounds again.  You will feel a gentle vibration for the voiced /z/ sound.  There is no vibration for the voiceless /s/ sound.

If your still not sure, think about voicing this way:

Most of the time, we use combine voiced and voiceless sounds.  However, when you whisper (like in the library), you usually turn off your voice – EVERYTHING becomes voiceless!

Here are some pairs of similar consonant sounds to practice:

Voiceless Voiced

p                        b

pet                        bet

k                        g

curl                        girl

s                        z

sip                        zip

f                        v

fine                        vine

t                        d

two                        do

To work with a Certified Teacher to improve your accent Contact Laura Meet in-person in Toronto or online from anywhere in the world on Skype

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