[b], [p], [f]

Student's Page

  • [b], [p], and [f] are consonant sounds made by using one or both lips.

  • Some speakers of particular languages may have trouble distinguishing and saying two of the sounds: either [b] and [p] (Arabic) or with [p] and [f] (Korean, Tagalog, Japanese, etc).

  • Because the sounds are very common in all positions in English words, they can make a big difference in communication.
  • * Click on the word whose pronunciation you want to hear.

    [b] [p] [p] [f]
    bet pet pill fill
    robing roping lapped laughed
    cab cap cop cough
    Warmup Place pairs of words in the correct columns. Check your answers with another student.

    The words below include minimal pairs, where all the sounds except onw for two words are the same. Place the words into the correct columns. Two pairs of words are done as examples.

    [p] and [b] [p] and [f]
    slap slab whipped whiffed

    please

    beater

    slab

    cops

    prayed

    laugh

    whipped

    pair

    coughs

    braid

    bare

    Peter

    fleas

    pear

    fail

    pale

    lap

    whiffed

    slap

    fair


    [p] and [b] [p] and [b]
    slap slab whipped whiffed
    Peter beater cops coughs
    pear/pair bare pear/pair fair
    prayed braid please fleas
        pale fail
        lap laugh
  • For the sound [b], both lips touch each other. The airflow is fully stopped and is then released all at once. The vocal cords vibrate when the sound is made.

  • SPELLING: The letter <b> almost always signals a [b] sound. The main exception to this rule is when the <b> is after the letter <m> at the end of a word, as in dumb, climb, tomb, bomb. Then the <b> is silent and gives no sound.
  • Exercise 1 Say these words and dialogues with the sound [b].
    best label sub
    boots rubbing cab
    bag trouble ribs
    belt hobby club

    Dialogue 1

    A: What did you buy?

    B: Some boots. But I had trouble finding a good belt.



    Dialogue 2

    A: Do you have any hobbies?

    B: I play golf. I just bought some new clubs. How about you?

    A: I like to build model boats.

    Exercise 2 Write (or say) the word with the [b] sound in each phrase.

    Example:

    You hear the best person" You write best

    1. 5.
    2. 6.
    3. 7.
    4. 8.
    1. bad
    2. buy
    3. better
    4. label
    5. boys
    6. trouble
    7. babies
    8. belt
    Exercise 3 Say some common phrases and words with [b].

    talk about _____ probably
    better come back
    go back maybe
    a number of _____ somebody
    job
  • For the sound [p], both lips touch each other.

  • The air flow is fully stopped and is then released all at once.

  • The vocal cords do not vibrate when the sound is made.

  • At the beginning of syllables, [p] is pronounced with an extra strong puff of air. This is called aspiration and it is extremely important for the sound [p].

  • SPELLING: The letter <p> almost always signals a [p] sound. The main exception to this rule is when the <b> is followed by <h> , as in phone, photo, physician. Then the <ph> is pronounced like [f].
  • Exercise 4 Say these words and sentences with the sound [p].
    Pat apple
    peeled pie
    potatoes perfect
    Pat has peeled a lot of potatoes. The apple pie is perfect.
       
    put pick up
    Jeep potato chips
    park party
    You could put your Jeep at the park. I'll pick up some potato chips for the party.
    Exercise 5 Each blank is missing a word with a [p] sound. Write the missing word.



    The most (1) are cats and dogs. But some (2) have very unusual   pets. Many people like birds, especially parakeets and (3) . Another pet that was popular for a while was a potbellied (4) , but they usually grow too large. Finally, some people even have piranhas, a dangerous fish with a fearsome (5) for eating animals and sometimes people.

    1. popular pets
    2. people
    3. parrots
    4. pig
    5. piranhas
    Exercise 6 Say some common words and phrases with [p].
    please apples the cops/the police
    perfect repeat keep quiet
    pick up apartment play (sport name)
    put down stop it a cup of coffee
  • For the sound [f], the lower lip almost touches the top teeth.

  • The air flow is squeezed out with friction.

  • The vocal cords do not vibrate when the sound is made.

  • SPELLING: : The letter <f> almost always signals an [f] sound. A common exception is the word “of” where the <f> letter is a [v] sound. <ph> spellings are also pronounced [f] as in photo. In some words, final <gh> spellings are pronounced [f], as in cough, tough, laugh.

  • Exercise 7 Say these words and dialogue with the sound [f].
    final playbutton coughing laugh
    fitting rougher staff
    fat suffer stuff
    fall toughest wife

    A: How did you do on your final test?

    B: It was the toughest one of all. There was all kinds of stuff on it.

    A: Really? Was it rougher than the first one?

    B: Way harder. At least the suffering is over now.



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