Voicing

Voicing is an important factor for pronouncing consonants correctly. There are some consonants that are spoken with the voice off (voiceless) and others that need to have the voice on (voiced).

Let’s compare T and D. These two sounds are almost the same, because they are both made in the same place in the mouth, and with the same part of the tongue. The only factor that makes them different is the voicing.

T is voiceless — that means it is pronounced with the voice turned off; the vocal cords do not vibrate or make any sound: “t”, “bat”, “time”.

D is voiced — that means is it pronounced with the voice turned on; the vocal cords vibrate and the sound of the voice is heard: “d”, “bad”, “dime”.

The voiced and voiceless consonants of English
In this list, the consonants in each pair are pronounced in the same place in the mouth, and differ only in the voicing. For each of these pairs the first is voiceless and the second is voiced.

T: t, fat, tore
D: d, fad, door

P: p, lap, pat
B: b, lab, bat

C & K: k, pick, come
G: g, pig, gum

F: f, safe, feel
V: v, save, veal

S & C: s, price, sip
Z: z, prize, zip

CH: ch, rich, choke
J & G: j, ridge, joke

TH voiceless: th, bath, thigh
TH voiced: th, bathe, thy

SH: sh, sure
SH voiced: zh, azure

Besides being able to pronounce these consonant sounds correctly, another reason why it is important to know about voicing, is to be able to pronounce the word endings [-s] and [-ed] correctly.
So pay attention to your voice!

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About Pronunciation Coach
I am a language teacher, with over 20 years of experience teaching ESL & Spanish.

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