Starting Line: The Phonics of Consonants

Hello, back again with part II of the Single Letter Phonics series.

Consonants: Thankfully, these have more straightforward pronunciation then Vowels do. However, because of the number of them, it will take a while to get through the whole list. Notice, Consonants, unlike vowels, almost never say their name.

B: Has two sounds

  • Straight “b” as in: Big, tub (be very careful not to make it sound like “buh”)
  • Silent “b” as in: debt, doubt, subtle (only these words)

C: Has three sounds

  • Harsh “k” as in: cap, car, music
  • Soft “s” as in: cedar, city, cymbol (only when followed by e, i, or y)
  • Silent “c” as in: muscle, victual (only these words)

D: Has three sounds

  • Straight “d” as in: dog, had
  • Double “d” as in: add, odd (pronounced just like Straight “d,” so do not double the sound). (exception)
  • Silent “d” as in: handkerchief, handsome (exception)

F: Has two sounds

  • Straight “f” as in: fog, leaf, gift
  • “v” as in: of (exception)

G: Has four sounds

  • Straight “g” as in: game, tug (get, give , girl, and begin all use this sound even though they are followed by the e/i/y)
  • Straight “j” as in: gentle, ginger, gym (when followed by e, i, or y, unless there is a u in between, then it is the first pronunciation)
  • Silent “g” as in: diaphragm, paradigm, phlegm, seraglio (exceptions)
  • Double “g” as in: exaggerate (note, this double is pronounced like a single Harsh “j”) (exception)

H: Has two sounds (never pronounced if it is the last ‘sound’ in a word)

  • Soft “h” as in: hot, half, behave (only when it begins a word or a syllable)
  • Silent “h” as in: hour, honor, exhibit, exhaust (exceptions)

J: Has one sound

  • Straight “j” as in: job, enjoy, rejoice (never used as the last letter of the word, so to get this sound at the end you would use either ‘ge’ or ‘dge’)

K: Has one sound

  • Harsh “k” as in: king, kite, walk (notice this one sounds a bit shorter than the “c” version) (This is used in place of ‘c’ for the harsh sound when the following letter is a e/i/y)

L: Has two sounds

  • Straight “l” as in: loop, help, milk (the ‘l’ is normally doubled at the end of a word if preceded by a short vowel or when ‘a’ or ‘o’ is changed by the ‘l’)
  • Silent “l” as in: half, talk, could

M: Has one sound

  • Straight “m” as in: map, drum (never a harsh sound)

N: Has one sound

  • Straight “n” as in: nest, rain, sent (also never a harsh sound)

P: Has two sounds

  • Straight “p” as in: put, kept, shop (notice, it makes a popping sound; very abrupt but not quite a harsh sound)
  • Silent “p” as in: coup, cupboard, raspberry

Q: (Remember, U follows it 99.999% of the time) Has two sounds

  • Soft “kw” as in: squirrel, equal, Queen
  • Harsh “k” as in: antique, bouquet (but only for words of French origin)

R: Has two sounds (and one exception)

  • Straight “r” as in: run, tree, hair (never pronounced as “er”)
  • Silent “r” as in: forecastle, worsted
  • Exception: Iron is pronounced like “i-ern”   (I earn the money. the only word that has this spelling)

S: Has five sounds 

  • Straight “s” as in: saw, son, focus (be careful not to let it drag on in a hissing sort of way)
  • Buzzing “z” as in: nose, wise (normally used when it is the last sound in a word, or at the end of a base word. However, if this sound is at the beginning of a word only the letter ‘z’ is used)
  • Silent “s” as in: island, aisle
  • Double “s” as in: Scissors, dissolve (pronounced like the Buzzing “z”)
  • “Sh” as in: sure, sugar

T: Has four sounds

  • Harsh “t” as in: top, not, altar
  • Silent “t” as in: Christmas, chestnut (normally occurs when the ‘t’ is between the letter ‘s’ and the diphthongs ‘le’ and ‘en’)
  • Double “t” as in: mitt, putt, watt, boycott (pronounced like the Harsh “t”)
  • ‘ch’ as in: picture, century, furniture (this happens when it comes before a unstressed long ‘u’)

V: Has one sound

  • Straight “v” as in: Vote, seven, five (More of a soft sound)

W: Two sounds 

  • Soft “w” as in: we, always, wed
  • Silent “w” as in: two, answer, sword
  • (Remember, “o” can make a fake “w” sound as in: one, once)

X: Four sounds

  • “ks” as in: six, next, exile (combination between Harsh “k” followed by a Hissing “s”)
  • “z” as in: xerox, xylophone (only at the beginning of words)
  • “sh” as in: Xion (this typically comes from words of Asian origin)
  • “x” as in: x-ray (Note this is the only consonant that actually says it’s name)

Y: Has four sounds. Note, the first sound is what you say when “y” is used as a consonant, the other three are for when it is used as a vowel (yes, very tricksy little letter)

  • Straight “y” as in: yellow, yes, beyond (only used as a consonant when it is not the end of a word or syllable)
  • “e” as in: candy, icy (says e’s name)
  • “i” as in: Fly, cycle (says i’s name, this is used because english words do not end in the letter ‘i’)
  • Harsh “i” as in: gym, symbol, syllable

Z: Has three sounds

  • Straight “z” as in: zipper, zoo, dozen (bit of a buzzing sound, must be used at the beginning of a word instead of ‘s’)
  • Silent “z” as in: rendezvous
  • Double “z” as in: pizza (Unlike all other double consonants, Double “z” actually combines two sounds: the first “z” sounds like “t” while the second sounds like Straight “z”)

Phew– We are now at the end of all single letter sounds. As you can imagine, there are double, triple, and even quadruple letter sounds, but those will come later. So practice well, and like with the vowels I will hopefully get a recording up soon where you can hear my melodious voice reading through this posting.


2 thoughts on “Starting Line: The Phonics of Consonants

    • Thank you very much. Seems like you have a lot of people on your blog that appreciate this kind of thing. By next month I will have the next part up in this series so come back and visit!

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