Pronunciation Practice: B & V



I work with a lot of Spanish and Japanese speakers. One sound that they both struggle with is the English V sound. They want to say B for both of these sounds. Speakers of some other languages might struggle with this contrast as well.

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B is a short, fast sound, made with your voice on. It is made with the lips together, like this:


B

V, on the other hand, is a sound that you can stretch out and continue for a long time--vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv. It is also made with the voice on, and you can vibrate it loudly. You can even feel vibration in your lips! V is actually the voiced version of the F sound. It is made just like the F sound, with the bottom lip pulled in a little to touch the top teeth, like this:


V

I always say the bathroom is a great place to practice your pronunciation, and it is for this sound, because you can see in a mirror if you are pronouncing it correctly. Make sure you are not using your upper lip when you make the V sound. If you are having trouble, you can hold the upper lip up with your finger to get it out of the way, at least until your brain understands how to do it. Don't let it your upper lip touch your lower lip. Make your lower lip touch your teeth and make the V sound.

Let's practice pronouncing B and V:

B...V...B...V...B...V

Now try these V words:

vacuum

van

vest

valley

video

visa

verb

value

vanilla

variety

Let's try some minimal pairs:

best, vest bat, vat berry, very bent, vent bet, vet boat, vote beer, veer ban, van beard, veered base, vase

As you can see, there are a lot of minimal pairs with B and V, which means if you say the wrong sound, you'll be pronouncing a totally different word. So keep practicing that V sound! I hope this lesson was helpful!

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