Learning American Consonants

Learning American Consonants

Learning American Consonant Sounds

Learning American Consonant Sounds

One of the key skills that I teach my accent reduction coaching clients from Japan, China  & Latin America is how to articulate American English consonants.

24 Consonant Sounds

American English has 24 consonant sounds.

  • 15 consonant sounds are voiced
  • 9 consonant sounds are voiceless

Voiced Consonant Sounds

Voiced sounds create a strong vibration in your vocal chords when you say them.

The 15 voiced consonant sounds are: /b/, /d/, /g/, /v/, /δ/, /z/, /ʒ/, /dʒ/, /m/, /n/, /ng/, /l/, /r/, /y/, /w/.

Voiceless Consonant Sounds

Voiceless sounds do not create a strong vibration in your vocal chords.

The 9 voiceless consonant sounds are: /p/, /t/, /k/, /f/, /θ/, /s/, /∫/, / t∫/, /h/.

Most People Are Better at Voiceless Sounds

Most people say the voiceless consonant sounds pretty well.

But the voiced sounds are often more challenging. Voiced sounds are really important though.

Here’s why.

One Big Reason You Need to Use Voiced Consonant Sounds

One big reason why you need to use voiced consonant sounds has to do with grammar.

  • Most of the time a word final S has a voiced /z/ sound.
  • And if you don’t say that /z/ sound, your grammar will sound incorrect.
  • Most of the time a word final ED has a voiced /d/ sound.
  • And if you don’t say that /d/ sound, your grammar will sound incorrect.

Chinese, Japanese & Spanish Speakers

If you’re a Chinese, Japanese or Spanish speaker, using voiced consonant sounds is a  key skill that you need to learn if you want to improve the way you speak American English.

You should get a book to help you with this skill.

If you don’t have a book, you can check out my recommendations here-

American Accent Books

Do you know all the soundz of the American S?

Do YOU know all the soundz of the American S?

how to pronounce the letter S

The sounds of the letter S.

If you don’t, there’z a good chance that you’re saying many wordz with a little bit of an accent.

The Letter S Has Many Sounds

I had a really great response to yesterday’z post, When S soundz like /z/.

So I’ll continue with this theme by sharing  some wordz in which S sounds like /ʒ/.

Ready?…..Here we go!

The letter S has a /ʒ/ sound in these words:

  1. pleasure
  2. measure
  3. treasure
  4. vision
  5. version
  6. Asian
  7. conclusion
  8. division


Listen Here


There’s a Pattern

Can you pick out the pattern? Look closely at the spellings of these words…..

Here’s the pattern:

When the letter S occurs before a U or I, the sound often becomes /ʒ/.

Interesting, izn’t it? ☝

Letters Have More Than One Sound

When you take one of my American accent programz, you’ll learn that many letterz have more than one sound.

This happenz with both vowel soundz and consonant soundz.

The Letter S Haz 4 Soundz

  • /s/
  • /z/
  • /ʒ/
  • /ʃ/

The Letter A Haz 5 Soundz

  • /ey/ as in Gray
  • /æ/ as in Black
  • /ǝ/ schwa
  • /ɑ/ as in Olive
  • /ɛ/ as in Red

You can follow this link to learn more about all the American Vowel sounds.

Learn the Soundz and Patternz

Once you can learn to hear….. and  then uze the correct soundz and patternz, you’ll be able to speak English more clearly.

You’ll be able so speak more professionally!

American Accent Training Programz

Check out my American accent training programs so that YOU can learn to speak more clearly in your area of expertise.

And thanks for visiting my blog!



Pronouncing Voiced & Voiceless Consonant Sounds

Are you an Arabic,  Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese or Spanish speaker who is working to improve your American accent?

If you are….it’s really important that you learn to use  voiced consonant sounds!

Let me explain what I mean…..

voiced sound causes your vocal chords to vibrate.

voiceless sound does not cause your vocal chords to vibrate.


  • Put your fingers lightly on your throat & say “zoo”.
  • You should feel a vibration when you say the /z/.


  • Keep your fingers on your throat & say “Sue”.
  • You should not feel a vibration when you say the /s/.


  • Put your fingers lightly on your throat & say “save”.
  • You should feel a vibration when you say the /v/.


  • Keep your fingers on your throat & say “safe”.
  • You should not feel a vibration when you say the /f/.


American English has many voiced consonant sounds; there are 15, to be exact. But many non-native speakers never learned to say these sounds with the correct voicing.

When you say these sounds incorrectly, it contributes heavily to your foreign accent. When American English speakers don’t hear those sounds…they won’t always understand what you are saying!

How can you learn to articulate voiced consonant sounds?

An excellent & very affordable book for learning to use these sounds is:

Pronunciation Pairs Student’s Book with Audio CD

I used this book when I taught pronunciation classes in Minneapolis &  Washington, DC. It’s easy to use, with lots of pictures & diagrams.


To learn MORE TIPS for clear American English, click on a link below.

And remember..don’t hesitate to invest a small amount of money to improve the way you speak! $

American English Spelling & Pronunciation

Do you ever feel like the English spelling system does not match the sounds of spoken American English? It seems that way doesn’t it?

English spelling is the way that words are written using the 26 letters of the Roman alphabet. Since English is not a phonetic language there is not always a one-on-one relationship between the letters in the English alphabet and spoken sounds.

This lack of sound spelling correspondence makes English a very difficult language to pronounce. Let’s look at some sound-spelling situations that are frequently confusing to non-native speakers of American English. We’ll start with the letter s.

When you are speaking English the letter s can represent several different sounds depending on its location within a word.

In the words simple and same the s sounds like /s/. This is what most non-native speakers expect. The /s/ is a voiceless sound

In the words resign and design the s sounds like /z/. The letter s is often pronounced as /z/ when it occurs between vowels. The /z/ is a voiced sound.

In the words leisure and pleasure the s sounds like /ʒ/. This is also a voiced sound. The s often sounds like /ʒ/ before a schwa vowel sound.

The fact that the letter s is pronounced three different ways can be very confusing when you are trying to pronounce English correctly!

One way to improve your pronunciation is to be aware of the variety of sounds that some letters can have.

The best way to do this is to listen attentively when American English speakers are talking. Try to increase your awareness of sounds and spelling patterns. Enhanced listening skills are one of the first steps in improving your American English pronunciation.

The Importance of Voiced and Voiceless Sounds

The Importance of Voiced and Voiceless Sounds

In spoken American English there are many pairs of consonant sounds that are articulated using the same tongue and mouth shape.

Some Consonant Sounds are Voiced

The difference between these pairs of sounds is that one sound is voiced and the other is voiceless.

Voiced sounds cause the vocal chords to vibrate. Voiceless sounds do not cause the vocal chords to vibrate.

When you voice a consonant, it sounds different.

Three Examples

Voiced sounds

Voiced sounds

In spoken English the /s/ & /z/ sounds employ the same tongue position and mouth shape however:

  • the /z/ is voiced and the /s/ is voiceless

The English /k/ & /g/ sounds are both produced in the back of the throat however:

  • the /g/ is voiced and the /k/ is voiceless

The /p/ & /b/ sounds are both made by pushing your lips together and then releasing them however:

  • the /b/ is voiced and the /p/ is voiceless

Non Native Speakers Often Omit Voiced Consonant Sounds

Many non native speakers don’t voice important consonant sounds. Some people omit these sounds when they speak.

Other people use the voiceless sounds /s/, /k/ & /p/ when they should use the voiced sounds /z/, /g/ & /b/.

Making these types of pronunciation mistake will contribute to your accent, compromise your grammar,  and create breakdowns in communication.

American English Pronunciation for Brazilian-Portuguese Speakers

Here is an accent reduction tip for Brazilian-Portuguese speakers who want to improve their spoken American English.

Be careful when you pronounce the letter P!

Brazilian-Portuguese speakers often pronounce the American English /p/ sound like a /b/ sound.

This can be confusing to American listeners because when you do that because:

pill sounds like bill

pull sounds like bull

poor sounds like boor

Peter sounds like beater

The /p/ and /b/ sounds are articulated almost the same way in spoken American English.

To make both sounds place your lips lightly together and then push the air out of your mouth in a short burst.

The difference is that /p/ is a voiceless sound and /b/ is a voiced sound.

When you make the /p/ sound you should not feel a vibration in your throat. When you make the /b/ sound you should feel a vibration in your throat.

There are many more American English pronunciation TIPS for Brazilian-Portuguese speakers here on my blog. Just click on one of the links below to learn MORE!

American English Pronunciation:The Voiced & Voiceless Th Sounds

In spoken American English the letter combination TH makes two different sounds. One of these sounds is voiced and the other is voiceless.

The IPA symbol for the voiced th sound looks like this /ð/.

The IPA symbol for the voiceless th sound looks like this /θ/.

While both of these sounds cause problems for non native speakers of American English, the /ð/seems to be the most problematic.

The /ð/ is the sound you hear at the beginning of frequently used words such as the, this, that, those. You also hear this sound in the middle of many common words such as: mother, father, brother and rather.

To make the /ð/ sound place your tongue slightly between your teeth. Your tongue and teeth should be touching. Since this is a voiced sound you should feel your vocal chords vibrate when you make the sound. That vibration will extend all the way to your tongue.

Most people find that the /ð/ is not comfortable sound to make and it takes a lot of practice to get it right!

To make the/θ/ sound place your tongue slightly between your teeth. Your tongue and teeth should be touching lightly. When the air flows out of your mouth it should feel gentle.

The /θ/ is the sound you hear in words such as: thanks, Thursday, birthday and month.

To see my software tutorial for these sounds click below.

How to pronounce the TH sounds.

You can see related posts by clicking on the links below. The 0 means the post is closed for comments.

Pronouncing the Voiced th Sound

The voiced th sound is one of the most problematic sounds for non-native English speakers to pronounce.

To make the sound place your tongue slightly between your teeth. Vibrate your vocal chords as you push the air through your throat.

While there are not that many words that have the voiced th sound, the words that do have this sound are frequently used. Here are a few examples:

the, there, their, this, that, these, those, brother, mother, father, together

Read more about voiced and voiceless sounds in American English.

American English Pronunciation Problems for Filipinos

If you are originally from the Philippines, you may be experiencing some problems with your American spoken English.

Don’t blame yourself!  It’s just that Filipino English is a bit different than the English we speak in America.

Specific pronunciation problems for Filipinos include:

  • the schwa vowel sound
  • how to use voiced consonant sounds such as the  /z/, /b/ & /v/ sounds
  • articulation of the TH sounds

In my accent reduction coaching program, I’ve found that American style intonation is also new for Filipino English speakers.

When I’ve worked with Tagalog speakers in my coaching program, they’ve always appreciated learning about how intonation can bring their speech to life! ♬


To read more about my accent reduction coaching program please click below.


Accent reduction coaching is the most effective way to change your accent. ☝


To learn MORE about INTONATION….click on that category below. ⬇