The Difference Between Vowels and Consonants Explained!

25 August 2023 / Team Fun English Course

“Vowels and consonants are the two primary categories of speech sounds or phonemes that form the foundation of language. They are essential components of all spoken languages, including English. But, what is the difference between vowels and consonants?”

So, what are vowels? Vowels are speech sounds produced with an open vocal tract. So, it allows air to flow freely without any obstruction. They are characterized by their sonority and are usually at the core of syllables.

Consonants, on the other hand, are speech sounds produced with some degree of obstruction or closure in the vocal tract. This obstruction creates friction or stops the airflow. Thus, resulting in distinct consonant sounds.

In this post, Fun English Course will discuss more about the difference between vowels and consonants in phonetics

The Importance of Distinguishing Vowels and Consonants

vowels and consonants in english

Understanding the distinction between vowels and consonants is crucial for various aspects of language learning and communication.

  • Word Pronunciation: The correct pronunciation of words relies on recognizing and articulating the different vowels and consonants in English.
  • Spelling: Vowels and consonants also play a significant role in spelling. So, differentiating them helps in spelling words correctly.
  • Phonics Education: In early literacy education, recognizing vowel and consonant sounds is fundamental to learning phonics and decoding words.
  • Language Acquisition: For individuals learning a new language, identifying vowels and consonants is essential to grasp the pronunciation and structure of the language.

How Vowels and Consonants Form the Basis of Language

identifying vowels and consonants

Vowels and consonants work together to create syllables and form words, which are the building blocks of language. Moreover, the combination of vowel and consonant sounds gives rise to the rich diversity of languages spoken worldwide.

In English, words are constructed using various combinations of vowels and consonants. Thus, it results in distinct and recognizable patterns. Vowels provide the necessary sonority and clarity, while consonants add definition and distinguish one word from another.

Moreover, the arrangement of vowels and consonants in sentences influences rhythm, tone, and cadence, giving spoken language its unique musicality and expression.

Understanding Vowel Sounds in English

vowel examples English has a rich variety of vowel sounds, and these sounds are essential for proper word pronunciation and communication. There are five primary vowel letters (A, E, I, O, U), but they can represent multiple sounds, leading to a total of around 20 vowel sounds in English.

So, let’s take a look at some common vowel examples in English:

  1. Short Vowel Sounds:
  • /ɪ/ as in “sit”
  • /ɒ/ as in “hot”
  • /æ/ as in “cat”
  • /ɛ/ as in “pen”
  • /ʌ/ as in “cup”
  1. Long Vowel Sounds:
  • /i:/ as in “see”
  • /oʊ/ as in “go”
  • /ju:/ as in “cute”
  • /u:/ as in “blue”
  • /eɪ/ as in “day”
  1. Diphthongs (Vowel Glide):
  • /aɪ/ as in “time”
  • /ɔɪ/ as in “boy”
  • /aʊ/ as in “house”
  • /eə/ as in “pair”
  • /ɪə/ as in “fear”

Understanding Consonant Sounds in English

consonant examples

Consonant sounds in English are produced with some degree of closure or obstruction in the vocal tract. However, there are numerous consonant sounds. They play a crucial role in word formation and pronunciation. 

Here are some common consonant examples in English:

  1. Plosives (Stops):
  • /p/ as in “pat”
  • /b/ as in “bat”
  • /t/ as in “top”
  • /d/ as in “dog”
  • /k/ as in “cat”
  • /g/ as in “go”
  1. Fricatives:
  • /f/ as in “fish”
  • /v/ as in “van”
  • /θ/ as in “think”
  • /ð/ as in “this”
  • /s/ as in “see”
  • /z/ as in “zip”
  • /ʃ/ as in “she”
  • /ʒ/ as in “measure”
  1. Affricates:
  • /tʃ/ as in “church”
  • /dʒ/ as in “judge”
  1. Nasals:
  • /m/ as in “man”
  • /n/ as in “no”
  • /ŋ/ as in “sing”
  1. Liquids:
  • /l/ as in “lip”
  • /r/ as in “red”
  1. Glides (Semi-vowels):
  • /j/ as in “yes”
  • /w/ as in “we”


If you ever wonder how many vowels and consonants are in English, we have just the correct answer. The number of vowels and consonants varies based on your accent, resulting in approximately 20 vowels and 24 consonants.

In summary, the difference between vowels and consonants is fundamental to understanding the mechanics of language and communication. If you want to learn more about it, join our English Club at Fun English Course!

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