P and B sounds
p:(cup, punch, pull)
b:(cub, bunch, bull)

English Pronunciation, Lesson 18

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The P and B sounds are often studied as a pair because both sounds are produced in the front of the mouth with the tongue in the same place. The only difference is that the B sound is voiced and the P sound is voiceless. What does that mean? Read on to find out.

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All English Tenses

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All Tenses

The voiced B sound (IPA symbol:
b) can be found in English words such as bring, bubble, boy, lab, rob, and bicycle.

b sound

The voiceless P sound (IPA symbol: p) can be found in English words such as jumppop, toppuppypurple, tip, and pray.

p sound

The P and B sounds should be studied together. They are produced in the same part of the mouth (the front) with the tongue in the same place.

The only difference is that the P sound is a voiceless sound and the B sound is a voiced sound.

Watch this short video about voiced and voiceless sounds.

In the English language, we use many voiced sounds. That means that the vocal cords vibrate when you say that letter. You can hear a voiced B sound in words such as "back" and "cab."

The letter P is a voiceless sound because the vocal cords do not vibrate. Instead, we use a puff of air to produce the sound. You can hear the P sound in words such as "pack" and "cap."

Watch this short video to hear and see the differences between the P and B sounds:

Have you watched it? Good! Let's practice saying each sound individually.

Practice the voiced B sound

Practice the voiced B sound by saying these words. Hold a piece of paper or your hand in front of your mouth to make sure you are voicing the consonant and not using a puff of air.
  • bug

  • cab

  • boy

  • bubble

  • brown

  • black

  • bring

  • tub

  • rub

  • big

Now practice the voiceless P sound

Use a piece of paper to practice the voiceless P sound. When you say this sound, you should release a puff of air from your mouth that moves the paper. Your vocal cords should not vibrate.
  • purple

  • cap

  • up

  • cup

  • happy

  • pot

  • lips

  • play

  • pie

  • practice

Finally, practice the sounds side-by-side

Remember to voice the B sound and use a puff of air for the P sound!

cub cup
back pack
bit pit
bubble purple
lobby happy

Now say these sentences out loud.

The P sounds are in blue. The B sounds are in green:

1) The big puppbarks.

2) The boy was happy.

3) Ride your bicycle to the top.

4) Bob should stop at the library.

5) We ate purple blueberry pie.

Have you finished them all? Great job! 

great job

Well done! You have completed this lesson.

Let's move on...

Soon to come: Lesson 19...

List of Lessons

Lesson 01: International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)

Lesson 02: Word Stress and Syllables

Lesson 03: Long E sound (meet, see)

Lesson 04: Short I Sound (sit, hit)

Lesson 05: UH Sound (put, foot)

Lesson 06: OO Sound (moon, blue)

Lesson 07: Short E sound (pen, bed)

Lesson 08: Schwa Sound (the, about)

Lesson 09: UR Sound (turn, learn)

Lesson 10: OH Sound (four, store)

Lesson 11: Short A Sound (cat, fat)

Lesson 12: UH Sound (but, luck)

Lesson 13: Soft A Sound (arm, father)

Lesson 14: Long O Sound (boat, know)

Lesson 15: Long A Sound (say, pain, make)

Lesson 16: Short O Sound (not, off, socks)

Lesson 17: Diphthong (a combination of two vowel sounds)

Lesson 18: P Sound (cup, punch, pull) and B sound (cub, bunch, bull)

Lesson 19: The Nasal Sounds (M, N, NG)

Lesson 20: F Sound (four, lift, graph, tough) and V Sound (love, knives, grave, vine)

Lesson 21: W Sound (wow, quit, where)

Lesson 22: R Sound (red, sorry, write)

Lesson 23: H Sound (he, behind, who)

Lesson 24: T Sound (top, it, later) and D Sound (do, had, made)

Lesson 25: S Sound (sit, box, cats) and Z Sound (zip, buzz, boys)

Lesson 26: K Sound (kid, talk, black) and G Sound (go, big, dog)

Lesson 27: L Sound: Light L & Dark L (tall, like, English)

Lesson 28: Y Consonant Sound (yes, you, beyond)

Lesson 29: CH Sound (China, century, watch) and J Sound (Germany, educate , judge)

Lesson 30: TH Consonant Sounds – voiced TH sound (the, father, them) and voiceless (unvoiced) TH sound (think, birthday, south)

Lesson 31: SH (shop, chef, special) and ZH (usual, massage, Asia)

Lesson 32: T and TT Sounds (true T sound, D sound, stop sound, silent T)

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