Voiced and Voiceless Sounds
There are 26 letters in the English alphabet, but there are 39 sounds (15 vowel sounds and 24 consonant sounds) produced by these letters. (see vowel and consonant sections).
A vowel is a sound where air coming from the lungs is not blocked by the mouth or throat. All normal English words contain at least one vowel.
The vowels are:
A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y.
'Y' can also behave as a consonant when it is at the beginning of a word.
A consonant is a sound formed by stopping the air flowing through the mouth.
The consonants are:
B, C, D, F, G, H, J, K, L, M, N, P, Q, R, S, T, V, W, X, Y, Z
All the sounds produced in the English are either voiced or voiceless. Voiced sounds occur when the vocal cords vibrate when the sound is produced. There is no vocal cord vibration when producing voiceless sounds. To test this, place your finger tips hand on your throat as you say the sounds. When saying the voiced sounds, you should be able to feel a vibration. When saying the voiceless sounds you sound not be able to feel a vibration.
Sometimes it is very difficult to feel the difference between a voiced and voiceless sound. Another test may help. Put a piece of paper in front of your mouth when saying the sounds- the paper will should move when saying the unvoiced sounds.
All vowels in English are voiced. Some of the consonant sounds are voiced and some are voiceless. Some of the consonant sounds produced in English are very similar. Many times the difference between them is because one is voiced and the other is voiceless. Two examples are 'z', which is voiced and 's', which is voiceless. See the chart below for a listing of the voiced and voiceless consonants.
Voiced consonants Voiceless consonant