All English Sounds
Complete Collection

Every word spoken in American English is made up of these 40 sounds. Learn these sounds and you will be able to speak any word.

All 24 Consonant Sounds

B/b/  

Put lips together to stop air, then part lips, expelling air in a burst. Voiced: air travels up through the throat and vibrates the vocal cords.

B words:  

baby, tub, best, buy, bring, blind, absent, about, number, labor

B sentence:  

Bill bought a big basket of beans.

D/d/  

Put teeth together, then place front of tongue at ridge behind upper central teeth to stop air flow. Then lower tongue and part teeth, allowing built up air to be expelled in a burst. Voiced: air travels up through the throat and vibrates the vocal cords.

D words:  

day, die, dear, duty, admire, hidden, lady, kind, ride, ended

D sentence:  

The day Dan’s lady Diane doubts Doug will be the day I die.

F/f/  

Put top teeth on lower lip to block air, then push air out through the blocked opening, causing audible friction. Voiceless: vocal cords do not vibrate.

F words:  

fast, female, five, forest, fund, fry, flight, often, deaf, cuff

F sentence:  

Fast furry ferrets fly further before the filthy frost.

G/g/  

Raise back of tongue to roof of mouth to stop air, then lower tongue, expelling air in a burst. Voiced: air travels up through the throat and vibrates the vocal cords.

G words:  

game, gap, egg, get, dog, great, global, giggle, ago, begin

G sentence:  

Giggling gorillas in the grass got great at games.

H/h/  

Open mouth and push air up from throat like exhaling a breath. Voiceless: vocal cords do not vibrate.

H words:  

hair, help, have, home, hotel, hunt, behind, inherit, history, enhance

H sentence:  

I hope you have a helping hand and a happy heart.

J/j/  

Tense lips and push them forward, then raise sides of tongue to roof of mouth, forming a central channel, and push air through channel and lips while you lower the tongue. Voiced: air travels up through the throat and vibrates the vocal cords.

J words:  

jaw, job, general, jingle, jelly, huge, agent, suggest, Egypt, energy

J sentence:  

Generally, my energy job in Jordan is jovial and joyful.

K/k/  

Raise back of tongue to roof of mouth to stop air, then lower tongue, expelling air in a burst. Voiceless: vocal cords do not vibrate.

K words:  

cake, look, clean, cry, sky, cucumber, panic, scratch, act, octagon

K sentence:  

Kangaroos can keep cool cleaning cucumbers.

L/l/  

Raise tongue and put tongue at ridge behind center top teeth, then push air up through the throat and out through nose. Voiced: air travels up through the throat and vibrates the vocal cords.

L words:  

late, let, live, alone, close, slim, please, old, nicely, table

L sentence:  

Living alone, I like to live and let live.

M/m/  

Put lips together to stop air, then push air up from throat and out through nose. Voiced: air travels up through the throat and vibrates the vocal cords.

M words:  

make, men, mind, mother, must, my, common, summer, name, form

M sentence:  

Many men make more money than Mr. Miller.

N/n/  

Put tongue at ridge behind top teeth to stop air, then push air up from throat and out through nose. Voiced: air travels up through the throat and vibrates the vocal cords.

N words:  

napkin, never, night, no, nuclear, funny, student, kindness, ton, sun

N sentence:  

Naughty Nancy never knows when to knit nicely.

P/p/  

Put lips together to stop air, then part lips, expelling air in a burst. Voiceless: vocal cords do not vibrate.

P words:  

paper, person, pick, pour, public, repair, apple, keep, top, crisp

P sentence:  

Paul prefers pictures of pandas painting penguins.

R/r/  

Round lips, raise middle of tongue to roof of mouth to stop air, then push air up through throat and out through mouth. Voiced: air travels up through the throat and vibrates the vocal cords.

R words:  

rain, red, car, rise, brief, grow, scream, truck, arrive, hurry

R sentence:  

Roger rides race cars and races rabbits in Richmond.

S/s/  

Raise middle and sides of tongue to roof of mouth, forming a central channel, then force air through the channel, causing audible friction as air moves and is expelled through the space between tongue and teeth. Voiceless: vocal cords do not vibrate.

S words:  

center, kiss, simple, system, song, cellar, street, lost, agency, notice

S sentence:  

Sally is self-centered and simply says she wants a kiss.

T/t/  

Put teeth together, then place front of tongue at ridge behind upper central teeth to stop air flow. Then lower tongue and part teeth, allowing built up air to be expelled in a burst. Voiceless: vocal cords do not vibrate.

T words:  

task, tell, time, tone, tune, hotel, attentive, student, boat, rest

T sentence:  

It took a tall traveler to turn the tables on Ted Thompson.

V/v/  

Put top teeth on lower lip to block air, then push air out through the blocked opening, causing audible friction. Voiced: air travels up through the throat and vibrates the vocal cords.

V words:  

vast, vein, vivid, voice, even, review, invest, give, move, active

V sentence:  

Victoria vacuumed the vast vessel very actively.

W/w/  

Round lips and push them forward while raising back of tongue toward roof of mouth, then glide tongue and lips back and push air up from throat and out through mouth. Voiced: air travels up through the throat and vibrates the vocal cords.

W words:  

wall, way, west, wind, word, would, swear, swim, twenty, twist

W sentence:  

When whales won’t wait, we swim westward.

Y/y/  

Raise middle of tongue to roof of mouth, then push air up from throat and out through mouth while lowering tongue. Voiced: air travels up through the throat and vibrates the vocal cords.

Y words:  

yes, you, yell, yawn, yesterday, yay, yoke, royal, voyage, choir

Y sentence:  

Yesterday, you yelled at Yolanda when she yawned.

Z/z/  

Raise middle and sides of tongue to roof of mouth, forming a central channel, then force air through the channel, causing audible friction as air moves and is expelled through the space between tongue and teeth. Voiced: air travels up through the throat and vibrates the vocal cords.

Z words:  

zebra, is, was, cause, present, reason, realism, advise, always, exercise

Z sentence:  

The present season is when zebras always exercise.

Digraphs

A digraph is a combination of two letters that make one consonant sound. Some digraphs simply sound like two seperate letters blended together one right after the other. The following are the consonant digraphs in American English that make a unique sound.

Sh/Sh/  

Tense lips and push them forward, then raise sides of tongue to roof of mouth, forming a central channel, and push air through channel and lips. Voiceless: vocal cords do not vibrate.

Sh words:  

share, she, shine, shoe, fish, cash, push, punish, smash, splash

Sh sentence:  

She shares fish with ships on the shore.

Ch/Ch/  

Tense lips and push them forward while bringing the teeth together, put tip and sides of tongue to roof of mouth to block air, then lower tongue and open mouth expelling air. Voiceless: vocal cords do not vibrate.

Ch words:  

chain, check, chief, choose, teacher, much, catcher, church, stretch, kitchen

Ch sentence:  

I choose not to choke while I chew my chicken chowder.

TH/TH/  

Put tip of tongue on lower edge of top teeth to block air, then force air over surface of tongue while pulling tongue back. Voiceless: vocal cords do not vibrate.

TH words:  

thank, thick, think, thought, thunder, author, breath, bath, birthday, therapy

TH sentence:  

I think thunder is thankful bath therapy.

Th/Th/  

Put tip of tongue on lower edge of top teeth to block air, then force air over surface of tongue while pulling tongue back. Voiced: air travels up through the throat and vibrates the vocal cords.

Th words:  

this, that, then, though, father, brother, breathe, bathe, weather, withered

Th sentence:  

This then is the weather where my mother and father withered.

Ng/Ng/  

Raise back of tongue to roof of mouth to stop air, then push air up from throat and out through nose. Voiced: air travels up through the throat and vibrates the vocal cords.

Ng words:  

king, laughing, bang, long, tongue, singing, finger, angry, longer, single

Ng sentence:  

The singing king was drinking, joking and laughing long.

Zh/Zh/  

Tense lips and push them forward, then raise sides of tongue to roof of mouth, forming a central channel, and push air through channel and lips. Voiced: air travels up through the throat and vibrates the vocal cords.

Zh words:  

mirage, beige, rouge, vision, genre, pleasure, equation, exposure, usually

Zh sentence:  

The beige rouge wasn’t usually pleasurable.

All 16 Vowel Sounds

Long A/Ay/  

Open the jaws about ½ inch, spread lips with face muscles tense while the tongue is down (middle and front), and push air up through the throat vibrating the vocal cords and out through the mouth.

Long A words:  

say, day, made, grey, make, play, claim, grade, shade, insane

Long A sentence:  

Angel’s aching ape ate eight grapes.

Short a/a/  

Lower jaw with lips unrounded and tongue down in front and face relaxed, then push air up through the throat vibrating the vocal cords and out through the mouth.

Short a words:  

at, ask, bat, glad, sad, mad, have, apple, laugh, cranberry

Short a sentence:  

Ask Ann for that apple after asking that man.

Long E /Ey/  

Draw the lips back and drop the jaw slightly so that the teeth are apart, raise the tongue midway (high and front) with face muscles tense, and push air up through the throat vibrating the vocal cords and out through the mouth.

Long E words:  

see, eat, bead, bee, key, please, three, clean, free, stream

Long E sentence:  

We three see the flea and the flea sees me.

Short e/e/  

Lower jaw and tongue half way (middle and front) with lips and teeth apart and face muscles relaxed, and push air up through the throat vibrating the vocal cords and out through the mouth.

Short e words:  

bed, fed, bet, Fred, said, dead, red, head, bled, instead

Short e sentence:  

Fred said the red bread was better in bed.

Long I/Iy/  

Start by opening the jaw wide with tongue down (low, center) and face muscles relaxed to make the short o /ɑ:/ sound, then close the jaw part way for the long e /i:/ sound, while pushing air up through the throat vibrating the vocal cords and out through the mouth.

Long I words:  

ice, lie, bite, tie, might, night, ride, fly, cry, spider

Long I sentence:  

I might try ice cream if I fly tonight.

Short i/i/  

Open the jaws about ½ inch with face muscles relaxed and lips unrounded while the tongue is high and front, and push air up through the throat and out through the mouth vibrating the vocal cords.

Short i words:  

kid, big, pit, pig, stick, quit, spit, fridge, little, picnic

Short i sentence:  

It’s not a little pig that spit out the fig, it’s big.

Long O/Ow/  

Drop the jaw about one inch with lips rounded and tongue down (middle, back) and face muscles tense, as you push air up through the throat vibrating the vocal cords and out through the mouth, then round and close the lips more to complete the sound.

Long O words:  

oat, owe, own, zone, blow, boat, toe, sew, know, story

Long O sentence:  

I know the boat of oats will blow to and fro.

Short o/o/  

Open jaw wide with tongue down (low, center) and face muscles relaxed, then push air up through the throat vibrating the vocal cords and out through the mouth.

Short o words:  

cot, bomb, tall, father, hot, taught, dot, calm, drama

Short o sentence:  

Father got a lot of water and he got hot.

Long U/Uw/  

Purse the lips in a whistle position (very rounded) with the tongue high and back and face muscles tense, then push air up through the throat vibrating the vocal cords and out through the mouth.

Long U words:  

you, boot, two, tube, blue, soon, tune, room, balloon, mushroom

Long U sentence:  

You two in blue will shoot the moon soon.

Short u (Schwa Sound)/u/  

Open jaw halfway with lips and face muscles completely relaxed and the tongue down (middle and center), then push air up through the throat vibrating the vocal cords and out through the mouth.

Short u (Schwa Sound) words:  

the, mud, above, buckle, under, putt, what, glove, another, love

Short u (Schwa Sound) sentence:  

Another one of us loves the buckle above the truck.

Short oo/^/  

Put lips in a whistle position (rounded) with tongue down (high, back) and face muscles relaxed, then push air up through the throat vibrating the vocal cords and out through the mouth.

Short oo words:  

good, foot, should, put, look, cook, took, could, brook, would

Short oo sentence:  

A good book should put a new look on the crook.

ow/Aw/  

Start by dropping the jaw with lips unrounded and tongue down (low, center) with face muscles tense, then move the lips to a rounded whistle position for the long oo /u:/ sound and close the jaw part way, while pushing air up through the throat vibrating the vocal cords and out through the mouth.

ow words:  

out, cow, gown, plow, drought, crown, loud, about, brown, throughout

ow sentence:  

Now I plow without my brown cow.

oy/Oy/  

Start by dropping the jaw with lips rounded and tongue down (middle, back) and face muscles tense to make the long o /oʊ/ sound, then move the lips to a smile position while closing the jaw part way for the long e /i:/ sound, while pushing air up through the throat vibrating the vocal cords and out through the mouth.

oy words:  

oyster, toy, coil, boy, boil, noise, hoist, avoid, destroy, employ

oy sentence:  

Joy was annoyed when the boy’s toy made noise.

er/Er/  

Begin with the mouth slightly open, teeth apart and lips slightly pursed with the tongue back and raised, and tip of the tongue in the middle not touching the teeth for the vowel sound, then move the mid-part of the tongue upward to transition to the r portion of the sound. When the tongue rises, the back of the tongue is bunched high so the sides of the tongue touch the back side teeth to create the r portion of the sound. Push air up through the throat vibrating the vocal cords and out through the mouth to create the sound.

er words:  

merge, bird, word, further, turn, learn, sir, sure, cursor, cure

er sentence:  

The bird merged further and turned into the girder.

ar/Ar/  

Open jaw with the lips slightly rounded and the tongue in the middle to low, back position and face muscles tense, then push air up through the throat vibrating the vocal cords to make the vowel sound, then move the mid-part of the tongue upward and close the mouth slightly to transition to the r portion of the sound. Push air up through the throat vibrating the vocal cords and out through the mouth to create the sound.

ar words:  

arm, hard, march, heart, start, yard, large, farmer, market, garbage

ar sentence:  

The barnyards are far larger in Arkansas yards.

or/Or/  

Start by dropping the jaw with lips rounded and tongue down (middle, back) and face muscles tense to make the vowel sound, then move the mid-part of the tongue upward to transition to the r portion of the sound. When the tongue rises, the back of the tongue is bunched high so the sides of the tongue touch the back side teeth to create the r portion of the sound. Push air up through the throat vibrating the vocal cords and out through the mouth to create the sound.

or words:  

or, for, store, corn, storm, horse, board, morning, tornado, important

or sentence:  

There was more corn on the floor at the store this morning.

Sounds vs Spelling

Below is an example of how misleading the spelling of American English can be. This paragraph will help you remember that one sound is often represented by many different combinations of letters. (For example, the following words contain the same vowel sound: he, leave, believe, key, amoeba, Lee, Caesar, quickly, machine, people, sea.) The following poem illustrates this fact of English humorously. If you can read and speak the paragraph below, you are truly an advanced student of the language.

Listen to paragraph FAST: 

Listen to paragraph SLOW: 

I take it you already know of tough and bough and cough and dough?

Some may stumble, but not you, on hiccough, thorough, trough, and through.

So now you are ready, perhaps, to learn of less familiar traps?

Beware of heard, a dreadful word, that looks like beard, but sounds like bird.

And dead, it's said like bed, not bead; for goodness sake, don't call it deed!

Watch out for meat and great and threat, they rhyme with suite and straight and debt.

A moth is not a moth in mother, nor both in bother, or broth in brother.

And here is not a match for there, nor dear and fear for bear and pear.

And then there's dose and rose and lose - just look them up; and goose and choose.

And cork and work, and card and ward, and font and front, and word and sword.

And do and go, then thwart and cart. Come, come! I've hardly made a start.

A dreadful language? Man alive! I learned to speak it when I was five.

And yet to write it, the more I tried, I hadn't learned it at fifty-five.

- Gerard Nolst Trenite