The h Sound (/h/ Phoneme)

This lesson is the about the h sound,  (/h/ Phoneme) as in the words:

  • have /hæv/
  • he /hiː/
  • home. /həʊm/

It is a sound from the Single Consonants group.

How to pronounce the h Sound

The /h/ sound is called the “voiceless glottal fricative,” which means that the sound is made with the motion of your vocal chords but is not voiced.

The /h/ sound is made through the mouth and is Aspirated, which means air comes out of your mouth as you say the sound and you do not vibrate your vocal chords but it is defined by the position of your vocal chords, because it is a fricative. Fricatives are sounds which are made by bringing two parts of your mouth or throat very close together and pushing the air through them. In this case, that’s your vocal chords.

The /h/ sound doesn’t have a specific mouth shape as it normally takes the shape from the following sounds.

To produce the /h/ sound, constrict your throat and breathe out through your mouth. The shape of your mouth doesn’t matter as much. It will probably just be whatever shape you’ll be making to make the next sound.

How the h Sound is spelled

The /h/ sound is spelled with the letter ‘h,’ though in a few words it is spelled ‘wh’ as in:

  • whole /həʊl/
  • who /huː/
  • whom /huːm/

Examples of the h Sound

Here are some words that start with /h/.

  • how /haʊ/
  • human /ˈhjuːmən/
  • happen /’hæpən/
  • help /help/

Here are some words with the /h/ sound in the middle.

  • behind /bɪˈhaɪnd/
  • perhaps /pəˈhæps/
  • behaviour /bɪˈheɪvjə/
  • and ahead /əˈhed/

Words don’t normally end with /h/.

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2 Responses to “The h Sound (/h/ Phoneme)”

  1. SMM H December 16, 2016 at 3:23 pm #

    are there any words ending in the h sound?

    • Colin December 21, 2016 at 11:47 am #

      Interesting question. I am not sure but I dont think so. It is a tricky sound to say at the end of a word. For words that end in the letter ‘h’, it is normally silent or together with the previous letter makes another sound. For example:
      beach /ʧ/
      fish /ʃ/
      moth /θ/
      graph /f/

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