Voiced / Voiceless Sounds

voiced and voiceless sounds

Introduction

In spoken English there are two types of sound that can be made, voiced sounds and voiceless sounds (also known as unvoiced). The difference between the two is that the former sounds use the voice box (as well as mouth) to create the sound whereas the latter can create the sound entirely with the mouth alone (lips, tongue & teeth).

 

Voiced Sounds

These sounds are made by vibrating the voice box as well as using the mouth. These sound softer than voiceless sounds and are made up of vowels (a, e, i, o, u) and voiced consonants. You will be able to tell when you are using these sounds as if you touch your fingers to your larynx (voice box) then you will feel it vibrate more. The voiced consonants consist of the sounds:-

/ b / (bed)

/ d / (do)

/ g / (go)

/ j / (jump)

/ l / (learn)

/ m / (mum)

/ n / (no)

/ ng / (long)

/ r / (red)

/ sz / (vision)

/ th / (the)

/ v / (live)

/ w / (went)

/ y / (you)

/ z / (zoo)

 

Voiceless Sounds

These sounds are made using just the mouth. These sound a lot harder than voiced sounds and are made up of just voiceless consonants. Again, you will be able to tell if you are using these sounds as your larynx will vibrate much less. The voiceless consonants consist of the sounds:-

/ c / (car)

/ ch / (chat)

/ f / (far)

/ h / (he)

/ p / (pen)

/ s / (say)

/ sh / (she)

/ t / (top)

/ th / (thank)

 

Voiced / Voiceless Pairs

There are some pairs between voiced and voiceless consonants. Each pair has a similar sound but you will notice the voiceless ones sound more forceful than their voiced version:-

 

VoicedVoiceless
bp
dt
gk
jch
vf
zs
szsh
thth


Sometimes it can be difficult going between these sounds. Reading aloud and doing these voiced / voiceless tongue twisters can help build up flexibility.