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Affricate and Fricative Consonants in English

Fricative and affricate are two types of consonants that are characterized by the articulation of their pronunciation. The main difference is that while the fricative is pronounced through the narrowing of some parts of the vocal tract, the affricates are a complex consonant that begins with an occlusive phase before moving on to a fricative phase.

To better understand the differences, let’s look at them in detail.

Fricatives

Fricatives are consonants produced when air passes through a narrow channel between two articulators. This passage of air creates the pronunciation of the fricative consonant. There are different types of fricative consonants depending on the articulators involved in the emission of the sounds. One particular type of fricatives are sibilants in which the tongue moves longitudinally to cause air to pass over the edge of the teeth. In English, the sibilants are [s], [z], [ʃ], and [ʒ]. In addition, fricatives can be labiodental, interdental, alveolar, and alveopalatal. Here is a list of the fricatives in modern English.

  • /f/, labiodental fricative
    Examples: five /faɪv/, four /fɔː(r)/, fine /faɪn/
  • /v/, labiodental fricative
    Examples: vine /vaɪn/, violet /vaɪələt/, vital /’vaɪt(ə)l/
  • / q /, interdental fricative
    Examples: thistle /ˈθɪs(ə)l/, thing /θɪŋ/
  • /ð/, interdental fricative
    Examples: this /ðɪs/, that /ðæt/
  • /s/, alveolar fricative
    Examples: sue /suː/, sip /sɪp/
  • /z/, alveolar fricative
    Examples: zoo /zuː/, zip /zɪp/
  • /ʃ/, alveopalatal fricative
    Examples: shore /ʃɔː(r)/, ship /ʃɪp/
  • /ʒ/, alveopalatal fricative
    Examples: azure /ˈæʒə(r)/
  • /h/, alveopalatal fricative
    Examples: hot /hɒt/, heat /hiːt/

Phrases

My wedding dress is azure.

The goldfinch is called this because it feeds on thistle seeds.

In Spain, it’s too hot in the summer.

It was a matter of vital importance.

John is not feeling well.

I love sipping my coffee.

Yesterday, the shore was beautiful at sunset.

Affricates

The affricates are a little more complex to pronounce. In fact, their pronunciation is divided into two phases starting with an interruption in the passage of air followed by a fricative sound. In English, there are only two affricate consonants, /tʃ/ and /dʒ/.

Examples:

/tʃ/ choose /tʃuːz/, beach /biːtʃ/, change /tʃeɪndʒ/, chops /tʃɒps/, China /ˈtʃaɪnə/

/dʒ/ joy /dʒɔɪ/, siege /siːdʒ/, John /dʒɒn/, orange /ˈɒrɪndʒ/

Phrases

Mary is a girl full of energy and joy.

This bag is made in China.

I love changes.

Oranges are my favourite fruit.

We spent the whole afternoon on the beach.

Now that you know how to pronounce the fricative and affricate consonants, you have an additional skill to make your English pronunciation impeccable. If you are thinking of taking an English course, why not try ABA English? With our natural and intuitive method, you will easily learn the correct pronunciation of English thanks to the didactic units developed from short films in English. Why don’t you start now?

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