1. Consonant Sounds Introduction

You might already know that there are 21 consonants in the English alphabet.

However, there are 24 consonant sounds when it comes to British English pronunciation. 

Let’s talk about your articulators - these are your tongue, lips, teeth, alveolar ridge, and hard and soft palate.


With consonants, the articulators either touch or are very close to each other


With a consonant sound like /ŋ/ as in 'long', 'king' and 'working' the back of the tongue is raised, touching the soft palate. The air is blocked from the mouth, causing the sound to come out through the nose.


Special Consonants:


We have three consonant sounds in British English which don’t strictly follow the articulator rules.

With these three consonant sounds, the articulators don’t touch. Instead, they come close together, and then hold that shape in the mouth. 


These sounds are:

 /r/ as in rain

/w/ as in water

/j/ as in yes 


These can be called semi-vowels. This is because with vowels the articulators neither touch, nor do they come close together. 

These special consonants are called approximants because they ‘approximate’ a consonant articulation