Voiced / Voiceless sounds

In spoken English there are two types of sound that can be made, voiced and voiceless (also known as unvoiced). The difference between the two is that voiced sounds use the voice box (as well as mouth) to create the sound whereas voiceless sounds 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. 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 voiceless sounds and are made up of just voiceless consonants. 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:-


Voiced Voiceless
b p
d t
g c
j ch
v f
z s
sz sh
th th

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

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