Learn the Consonants

Consonants "clarify the message that the vowels carry." They quickly start, stop, or blend between vowel sounds. When pronounced, some consonants use the vocal cords ("voiced") and some do not ("non-voiced"). Learn more about "voiced" sounds.

Standard Consonants

Standard pronunciation of consonant letters are black.

Examples of voiced and non-voiced standard consonants.

Voiced

  • B as in Boy
  • D as in Dog
  • G as in Go
  • J as in Job
  • M as in Mop
  • N as in No
  • V as in Very
  • Z as in Zoo

Non-Voiced

  • C as in Cat
  • F as in Fast
  • H as in Hello
  • K as in Key
  • P as in Pay
  • Q as in Quit
  • S as in See
  • T as in Top
  • X as in Box

Silent Letters

Silent letters are not pronounced and shown in light grey as in the examples below.

  • knife
  • comb
  • aisle
  • foreign
  • depot

Variation Consonants

Variation Consonants come in five different colors and can be either voiced or non-voiced.

Voiced Consonants

Voiced consonants use your vocal cords and appear in red. There are 2 variations.

  • dark red
    (most frequent variation)
  • light red
    (less frequent variation)

Non-Voiced Consonants

Non-voiced consonants do not engage your vocal cords and appear in blue. There are 3 variations.

  • true blue
    (most frequent variation)
  • turquoise
    (sounds like "ch" in the word "church")
  • steel blue
    (sounds like "sh" in the word "she")

Dark Red   Voiced Consonants

Dark red consonants apply to letters which make the following voiced sounds when pronounced.

S and X that sound like a Z

  • is
  • as
  • was
  • Xerox

F that sounds like a V

  • of

G and D that sound like J

  • age
  • agile
  • soldier

Dark red TH is voiced

  • the
  • there
  • that

Words ending with _N_

  • bank
  • sing

Light Red   Voiced Consonants

Light red consonants apply to letters which make the following voiced sounds when pronounced.

T, G, S, and J that sound like Jh

  • equation
  • rouge
  • vision
  • Jacques

X that sounds like a G followed by Z

  • exit
  • exam
  • executive

W and PH that sound like a V

  • wien
  • wunderkind
  • Stephen

N that sounds like Ñ

  • mañana
  • niño
  • piñata
  • gnocchi

True Blue  Non-Voiced Consonants

True blue consonants are used in the following situations.

C that sounds like an S

  • nice
  • ace
  • truce

D that sounds like a T

  • liked
  • stopped
  • finished

Z that sounds like a T followed by an S

  • pizza
  • ritzy
  • klutz

PH and GH that sound like an F

  • laugh
  • tough
  • phone
  • emphasis

True blue TH is non-voiced

  • three
  • throw
  • fourth

J and G that sound like an H

  • jicama
  • Vallejo
  • La Jolla
  • Jorge
  • Gila (monster)

Turquoise  Non-Voiced Consonants

All turquoise consonants sound like the "ch" in the word "church."

CH, TCH, C, T that sound like CH

  • church
  • catch
  • cello
  • nature

Steel Blue  Non-Voiced Consonants

All steel blue consonants sound like the "sh" in the word "she."

SH, S, C, CH, T, X that sound like SH

  • she
  • sugar
  • special
  • machine
  • nation
  • anxious

R and L Consonants

The letters R and L are in a group all their own: they can function as consonants as well as vowels. Learn these two letters as both vowels and consonants and know the difference in pronunciation.

R as a consonant

Chrometics shows the consonant letter R in black as in run, or colored purple as in drop

L as a consonant

The consonant letter L is shown in black as in love, or colored in the mud color as in quickly

Special Consonants

Y (and its substitutes A, E, I, or U and J or LL)

When you see Y as a black letter before a vowel sound, use the standard consonant pronunciation as in yes or you. The pronunciation is similar to a quickly said ee vowel but functions as a consonant which pushes quickly into the vowel sound that follows.

Occasionally "vowel" letters such as A, E, I or U also function as a consonant Y, as do the consonant letters J or LL. These letters will be colored green as in the examples below.

  • poignant
  • onion
  • failure
  • (via de la) Valle
  • (Puerto) Vallarta
  • (La) Jolla
  • Johann
  • Jaeger (Meister)

W (and its substitutes O and U)

When you see a W as a black letter, use the standard consonant pronunciation as in in why, was, were, we, walk, what, etc. When you see a mud colored W, as in forward, it is only to remind you to use the standard consonant pronunciation.

Occasionally, the letters O and U are pronounced like the W, In these instances, the letter making the W sound is mud colored as in the following examples.

  • quiet
  • choir
  • one

When a W follows a vowel, it is effectively 'silent' and will be shown in the vowel color as part of the vowel sound or as a diphthong as in the examples below.

  • awesome
  • own
  • down
  • view

What is a "Voiced" Sound?

Put your hand on your throat and say "Ahh" or the name of any letter. Try it with "Z," "D," "B," "V," "M," "N," "G," or "J." You should feel movement in your throat. The vocal folds/cords are vibrating; they are creating the "voiced sound."

Now put your hand on your throat and make the sound that the letter "S" makes. Don’t say the name of the letter – only make the sound. (Think of a hissing sound – sssssss.) You should feel nothing in your throat. The vocal folds/cords are not vibrating together (they are not ‘engaged’). This is a "non-voiced" sound. Letters such as "T," "C," "P," "H," and "K" also represent sounds that are not voiced.

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