Single Consonants sounds on the Phonetic Chart

This is a video explaining all the sounds of the single consonants.

In this video we are going to be looking at the single consonant sounds. The consonants are the sounds represented by the symbols in Blue on the Phonetic Chart. In this video we are only going to be looking at the bottom row. These sounds are referred to as Single Consonants because each one is produced in a unique way. All these sounds are voiced, apart from the /h/ which is aspirated.

So lets get started.

Single Consonants: The /m/ sound.

This sound is produced by the vocal chords whilst diverting airflow through the nose by blocking the mouth with both lips. 

Lets look at some examples.

  • make
  • man
  • money
  • month

Single Consonants: The /n/ sound.

Similar to the /m/ sound in that the sound is produced by the vocal chords whilst diverting airflow through the nose by blocking the mouth but instead of blocking with the lips it is blocked by the tongue pressing against the area behind the top teeth.

As in the words

  • now
  • need
  • number
  • run

Single Consonants: The /ŋ/ sound.

Again this is similar to /m/ and /n/ because we are diverting airflow through the nose by blocking the mouth but this time with the back of the tongue at the back of the mouth near the throat. It is normally spelt n-g and is very common as the gerund form of verbs.  It can be difficult for some people learning English because it is not a common sound in some other languages.

Here are some examples:

  • thing
  • young
  • long
  • nothing

Single Consonants: The /h/ sound.

This is an unusual one, this sound is aspirated so it is made by pushing air out of the mouth. The air is not restricted in any way or directed to any part of the mouth to make the sound, instead the sound is produced by the pressure of the air in the throat and mouth.  The shape of the mouth can vary depending on the following vowel. It is normally written with the letter h and this is often pronounced much more softly or almost silently in other languages so it is often a sound that people have problems with.

Here are some examples;

  • how
  • home
  • health
  • hold

Single Consonants: The /l/ sound.

This sound is produced by the vocal chords whilst airflow is directed around the sides of the tongue by placing the tip of the tongue on the top teeth or just behind them.

Here are some examples

  • look
  • real
  • life
  • old

Single Consonants: The /r/ sound.

This is made by pushing our lips out whilst keeping our tongue back. Our tongue should not touch any other part of the mouth but the inside of our bottom lip, that is this bit, should touch or come very close to our top teeth.

As in the words

  • right
  • run
  • already
  • reach

Single Consonants: The /w/ sound.

To make this sound our lips are rounded like this. At the same time the back of the tongue moves back while the front points down.

As in the words

  • why
  • one
  • whether
  • win

Single Consonants: The /j/ sound.

To make this sound we need to push our tongue forward so the tip touches our bottom teeth and the rest curls up behind and touches the top of the mouth at the sides. This one is a little confusing because the phonetic symbol is the letter j but this sound is most commonly spelt with the letter y; however, it can also be spelt in other ways.

Lets look at some examples

  • you
  • year
  • million
  • continue

So that is all the single consonant sounds. For more information on the other groups of sounds, Vowel Sounds, Diphthongs or Consonant Pairs click on these links on the left of the screen, or click on any of the symbols for videos on any of the individual sounds with a detailed pronunciation explanation and more examples.

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