The sound /h/ voiceless, glottal, fricative consonant
/h/ - help, ahead
/wh/ - who, whole
Note: The letter "h" is the most common spelling of /h/. However, the letter "h" can also be silent (as in "hour") or can combine with another letter to indicate another sound. (For example, "sh" = /ʃ/, "th" = /θ/ or /ð/)
The sound /h/ is in several English pronouns:
he, him, her
In informal American English speech, it is common to drop the /h/ from these pronouns. Listen to the difference:
1. Formal: I met her. 2. Formal. Where did he go? 3. Formal: He forgot his bag.
Informal: I met 'er. Informal: Where did 'e go? Informal: 'E forgot 'is bag.
These are both voiceless consonants pronounced in the back of the mouth. However, /h/ is a glottal fricative and /k/ is a velar stop . The sound /k/ is pronounced with the back of your tongue, while /h/ is pronounced with the glottis, which is behind your tongue.
You can hear the difference between /h/ and /k/ in these words.
1. A. height, B. kite 2. A. hill, B. kill 3. A. hand, B. canned 4. A. how, B. cow 5. A. heap, B. keep 6. A. hole, B. coal
These are both consonants without friction - no part of your tongue should touch a part of your mouth. However, /h/ is a voiceless glottal fricative and /w/ is a voiced labio-velar approximant. When you pronounce /h/, your lips should be in a neutral, unrounded position, but when you start to pronounce /w/, your lips should be round.
You can hear the difference between /h/ and /w/ in these words.
1. A. high, B. why 2. A. hot, B. watt 3. A. who, B. woo 4. A. hitch, B. which 5. A. hair, B. wear 6. A. hurry, B. worry
Listen and repeat these words:
1. height 2. hall 3. home 4. help 5. heater 6. hurry 7. history 8. whole 9. who 10. humor
Now, practice /h/ in sentences. Say the words first, then the sentences.
1. hear - him - help Did you hear him ask for help? 2. have - hurry - home We have to hurry home. 3. house - behind - hill My house is just behind that hill. 4. he - hurt - himself - hockey He hurt himself by playing hockey. 5. hope - happy - how I hope you're happy with how your English is improving. 6. perhaps - husband - her Perhaps her husband is with her.
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