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Plosives in English language

Plosives are also known as stops (or oral occlusives). They are consonant sounds that when produced the vocal tract is blocked so that all airflow ceases.

Characteristics of plosives

A plosive is a consonant articulation that has the following characteristics:

Presentation of plosives

English has six plosive consonants. They are: p, t, k, d, b, and g; there is one more glottal plosive that occurs frequently but it is considered of a less importance because it is just an alternative pronunciation of p, t or k.

The plosives p and b

The plosives p and b are bilabial which means that the lips are press together. The plosive p is always voiceless. The plosive b can be fully voiced, partly voiced, or voiceless.

The plosives t and d

The plosives t and d are alveolar which means that the tongue blade touches the alveolar ridge during production of these plosives. However, the tongue shouldn’t touch the front teeth as it does in the dental plosives so common in many European languages. The plosive t is always voiceless. The plosive d can be fully voiced, partly voiced or voiceless.

The plosives k and g

The plosives k and g are velar which means that the tongue is pressed against the area where the hard plate ends and the soft plate begins. The plosive k is always voiceless. The plosive g can be fully voiced, partly voiced or voiceless.

Phases in plosives production

For a complete presentation/description of plosive consonants we should take a look at the phases of plosives production. There are four phases presented below:

Occurrence of plosives

All of the six English plosives can occur at the beginning of a word, between other sounds, and at the end of the word.


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