H Sound

h:(he, behind, who)

English Pronunciation, Lesson 23

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The H sound (IPA symbol: h) can be found in English words such as he, her, hello, here, behind, and who. It is an unvoiced consonant sound. What does that mean? Read on for an explanation.

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

How to pronounce the H sound

H is a consonant sound. A consonant is any letter in the alphabet that is not a vowel (vowels = a, e, i, o, u).

letter H

The H sound is a voiceless or unvoiced sound. This means that your vocal chords do not vibrate when you make this sound. Instead, you use a puff of air to produce the sound. The H sound is the same in British and American English.

Here are some other voiceless consonant sounds in English:
  • p sound (Lesson 18)

  • f sound (Lesson 20)

  • t sound (top)

  • k sound (kitten)

  • s sound (Sunday)

  • tʃ sound (China)

  • θ sound (south)

  • ʃ sound (Russia)
We will learn about all of these sounds in later pronunciation lessons.

The H sound makes little sound. It is a very quiet sound. It is made by passing air through your mouth. A common error of English students is to overproduce this sound.

To make the sound, lightly constrict your throat and breath out through your mouth. When done correctly, your vocal chords will not vibrate. The shape of your lips will depend on the spelling of the word.

Tip: Use a piece of paper to practice the voiceless H 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.

Watch this video from 
Rachel's English to see how the H sound is produced:


The H sound is usually spelled with only the letter H: how, behind, he.

Sometimes, the H sound is spelled with the letters WH: who, whom, whole.

In English, the H sound will never be at the very end of a word. The H sound only appears at the beginning of syllables.

Let's practice

Remember, this is an unvoiced sound. Your vocal chords should not vibrate when you make this sound.

Try holding a piece of paper in front of your mouth when you practice these words. Your breath should lightly move the paper when you make the H sound.

H sound at the beginning of a word:

1) he

2) how

3) her

4) home

5) help

6) here

7) hear

8) holiday

9) happy

10) hand

11) hug

12) hurry

13) his

14) heavy

15) hello

16) handsome

17) whose

18) whole

19) whom

20) who

H sound in the middle of a word:

1) behind

2) Ohio

3) doghouse

4) birdhouse

5) downhill

6) reheat

7) beehive

8) behave

9) inhale

10) uphill

Now say these sentences out loud (the H sounds are bold):

1) How are you?

2) He is here.

3) Who has red hair?

4) Hurry uphill to the house.

5) He is a happy, handsome man.

7) Reheat the whole hamburger, so it is hot for her.

8) Whose home is high on the hill?

9) Here is her doghouse. It is heavy.

10) Help! Can you hear him?

a happy woman

Your teacher is happy! You have completed this lesson!

Remember, the H sound is a voiceless sound. Continue to practice this sound to make sure you are doing it correctly. 

Let's move on...

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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