The sound /f/ voiceless, labiodental, fricative consonant




  • “f" - friend, before
  • "ff" - off, difficult
  • "ph" - phrase, physics
  • "gh" - tough, laugh

The sound /f/ can be in these consonant clusters:
  • Beginning of a Syllable
    /fr/ ("fr") - friend
    /fl/ ("fl") - fly
  • End of a Syllable
/lf/ ("lf") - shelf
/lfs/ ("lfs") - gulfs
/rf/ ("rf") - scarf
/rfs/ ("rfs") - wharfs
/fs/ ("fs" / "ffs" / "ghs") - proofs, cuffs, coughs
/fθ/ (“fth”) - fifth
/fθs/ (“fths”) - fifths
/lfθ/ (“lfth”) - twelfth
/lfθs/ (“lfths”) - twelfths
/ft/ ("ft") - left
/fts/ ("fts") - shifts
Compare /f/ with /v/:

Both /f/ and /v/ are labiodental fricative consonants. However, /f/ is voiceless and /v/ is voiced. When you pronounce /f/, your vocal cords should not vibrate. At the end of a word, the vowel before /f/ will be shorter than the vowel before /v/.

You can hear the difference between /f/ and /v/ in these words.
1. A. face, B. vase
2. A. fan, B. van
3. A. surf, B. serve
4. A. leaf, B. leave
5. A. shelf, B. shelve
6. A. safer, B. savor

Now, compare /f/ with /θ/:

Both /f/ and /θ/ are voiceless fricative consonants. However, /f/ is a labiodental consonant, and /θ/ is an dental consonant. You should pronounce /f/ with your upper teeth rubbing against your lower lip.

You can hear the difference between /f/ and /θ/ in the words below.
1. A. fought, B. thought
2. A. first, B. thirst
3. A. free, B. three
4. A. deaf, B. death
5. A. reefs, B. wreaths
6. A. whiff, B. with
Listen and repeat these words:
1. fake
2. phone
3. fire
4. fever
5. flame
6. flower
7. frown
8. fraction
9. fantasy
10. offer
11. rough
12. left
13. coughs
14. selfish
15. afraid
16. after
17. different
18. effective
19. fifth
20. philosopher

Now, practice /f/ in sentences. Say the words first, then the sentences.
1. afford - forget - phone
You can't afford to forget your phone!
2. cough - fever - feels
He has a cough and a fever, so he feels very sick.
3. flying – after - final
I'm flying home after final exams.
4. family - friends - fireworks - fourth
My family and friends watched fireworks on July Fourth.
5. left – before – finished
I left before the class was finished.
6. fee - ferry - five
The fee for riding the ferry is five dollars.

To practice with different varieties of English, choose another native English speaker by clicking one of the links below:

Consonants /d/ and /g/

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