Difference Between Vowels and Consonants

Vowels vs Consonants
 

When it comes to the purpose of usage, there exists a considerable difference between vowels and consonants. Vowels and consonants are actually two types of groups that exist in an alphabet. This article is with regard to the English alphabet. Without these two types, vowels and consonants, a language cannot be made. Vowels are defined as “a speech sound which is produced by comparatively open configuration of the vocal tract, with vibration of the vocal cords but without audible friction, and which is a unit of the sound system of a language that forms the nucleus of a syllable.” On the other hand, a consonant is defined as “a basic speech sound in which the breath is at least partly obstructed and which can be combined with a vowel to form a syllable.”

What are Vowels?

Vowels are five in number. Namely, the vowels are a,e,i,o and u. The vowels are otherwise called as sonants. It is rare to find two ‘a’s, ‘i’s and ‘u’s together in a word although you can find words where two other similar vowels can appear such as ‘good’ and feel. This is due to the fact that ‘a’, ‘i’ and ‘u’ are called simple vowels.

Difference Between Vowels and Consonants

What are Consonants?

On the other hand, consonants are twenty one in number. The entire alphabet other than the five vowels constitutes the consonants. It is important to note that consonants have to combine with vowels to form genuine words. In other words, it can be said that consonants on their own accord cannot combine to form meaningful words. They have to take the help of the vowels to form meaningful words. The word consonants mean ‘that which take the help of the sonants or the vowels.’

Consonants are of five types. They are called gutturals that arise from the throat such as ‘k’ and ‘g'; palatals that arise from the hard palate such as ‘j’ and ‘s'; cerebral that arise from the roof of the palate such as ‘d’ in ‘door’ and ‘t’ in ‘total'; dentals that arise from the teeth such as ‘t’ in ‘through'; the labials that arise from the lips such as p in ‘plate’ and ‘m’ in ‘mall’. This categorization of vowels that is done based on the place the sound is formed can be done more extensively as Bilabial, Labio-Dental, Dental, Alveolar, Post-Alveolar , Retroflex, Alveolo-palatal, palatal, velar, uvular, pharyngeal, epiglottal and glottal.

It is interesting to note that consonants are produced even through the nose. Such of those consonants that are produced from the nose are called nasals such as ‘n’ in ‘novel’. One of the important rules of pronunciation with regard to vowels is that the initial ‘a’ in a word gets elongated as in the word ‘bark’ and the initial ‘u’ in a word gets shortened as in the word ‘bull.’

Consonants

What is the difference between Vowels and Consonants?

• Vowels are five in number and they are a,e,i,o and u. On the other hand, consonants are twenty one in number.

• Though consonants are larger in number than vowels, they have to combine with vowels to form genuine words.

• The vowels are otherwise called as sonants. Therefore, the word consonants mean ‘that which take the help of the sonants or the vowels.’

• A, I and u are known as simple vowels.

• Consonants are of five types. The extensive categorization of consonants has more types than this. They are Bilabial, Labio-Dental, Dental, Alveolar, Post-Alveolar , Retroflex, Alveolo-palatal, palatal, velar, uvular, pharyngeal, epiglottal and glottal.

Images Courtesy:

  1. IPA Chart Consonants by Nickshanks, Grendelkhan, Nohat (CC BY-SA 3.0)