Hello there! This is the “Sounds American” channel. In this video, we’re going to talk about the American consonant sound /v/, as in the word “very.” You can also hear this sound in words like “voice”- “five” – “never” or “savvy.” We’ll be using a special phonetic symbol – /v/ – for this sound. Let’s begin with some phonology. Keep calm, it’s not complicated. You may even like it :). The /v/ belongs to a category of consonant sounds called the fricatives. This is the largest group of consonants in American English: it consists of nine different sounds! Take a look: So, why are they called the fricative consonants? All these sounds are made by partially blocking the air moving through your mouth which creates an audible friction. Speaking about the /v/ consonant, this sound is made by partially blocking the airstream with your lower lip and your upper teeth. Most people have the /v/ sound in their native language and typically don’t consider the American /v/ to be tricky. But there are also some people who are pretty aware that they have difficulty with it. What about you? Let’s take a small test. Take a look at this word. Now try to pronounce it. You’d be surprised how many people pronounce it this way: Sometimes it’s pronounced like this: If you’re 100% sure you’ve pronounced this word correctly, you may skip the rest of this video. If you have any doubts, keep watching and let’s find out how to make this consonant. To make the /v/ sound correctly, focus on the position of your lips and teeth. First, lightly bite your lower lip. Make sure you do it gently and leave a tiny gap between your lip and your teeth. Now, release a stream of air through that gap, creating lots of friction. The air should flow over your lip. The /v/ is a voiced consonant, so don’t forget to add your voice. Remember, the /v/ is a continuous sound, so you should be able to stretch it out, like this: Now, let’s try saying it: Here are a few typical mistakes that people make when pronouncing this sound. The most common mistake is that non-native speakers devoice the /v/ sound, especially when it occurs at the end of words. Usually, people don’t realize that they pronounce the voiceless /f/ sound instead. Remember, this may be fine in other languages, but the American /v/ is never devoiced at the end of words! Compare: By the way, don’t forget to lengthen the vowel before the /v/ sound! Remember our Vowel Length rule? The /v/ is a voiced consonant, so the vowel sound before the /v/ is typically longer than before its voiceless counterpart, the consonant sound /f/. Compare: We talked about the Vowel Length rule in detail in one of our previous videos. Check the link in the Description below. There’s no sound /v/ in some languages. Correct, we’re talking about Spanish. The letter ‘v’ is pronounced as the /b/ in this language, so it’s not surprising that many Spanish-speaking people do the same when they speak English. Compare: Another common problem is that many non-native speakers pronounce the /v/ sound without enough friction. Why does this happen? Most often people try to produce the friction using only their lips since this is how they do it in their languages. This way the passage for the airstream is too wide and there’s no obstacle to create sufficient friction. Compare: How to avoid making these mistakes? Make sure to always lightly bite your lower lip with your teeth and release a stream of air between them. Remember to produce a strong, continuous sound and always add your voice. Non-native speakers often confuse the /v/ sound with the /w/ consonant. It happens because in some languages these two sounds are used interchangeably and in others, the letter ‘w’ is pronounced as /v/. Be very careful, in English, this can lead to misunderstandings. Compare: It may be hard to believe, but in English, the /v/ and the /w/ are two completely different sounds. Now, let’s practice. This is how it works. You’ll see a word on the screen and hear its pronunciation. Like this. You’ll have a few seconds to pronounce the word. ♪ Try to practice as many words as possible, this is the most important part of the whole lesson. Let’s start with the /v/ at the beginning of words. Let’s pause here for a second and review how you’re making the /v/ sound. Make sure you that you release the air between your lower lip and your teeth. Now we’ll practice making this sound in the middle of words. Let’s continue practicing. Great job! Now let’s practice pronouncing words with the /v/ sound at the end. Don’t forget to make the /v/ a continuous voiced sound with a longer vowel before it! Let’s do it! You’re done! Congratulations! The /v/ sound is always represented by the letter ‘v’ in written words. However, there’s an exception. There’s a word in which the /v/ is written with the letter ‘f’. Do you know this word? Correct! It’s the preposition “of.” Now you’ll probably remember it forever :). BTW, we LIKE your comments. We always receive great questions from you! Like this one: One of our viewers asked: “What’s the difference between the schwa and the /ʌ/ sound? I really can’t hear any difference between them!” This is an awesome question! Take a look: You can’t hear the difference because these two sounds are pronounced almost exactly the same. The /ʌ/ occurs in stressed syllables and the schwa in weak ones. These are the stressed and weak versions of the same sound. The reason that there are two different symbols is to indicate the type of syllables these vowels occur in. Click “Like” if you liked this video. Share this video with your friends, pets, and relatives. 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