English pronunciation can be tricky (difficult, complicated). It takes a lot of practice to pronounce some words correctly. Two sounds that can be hard to pronounce (say) are the V and F sounds. For example, what’s the difference between live and leaf?

Good pronunciation means that other people can understand you easily (very easy). This is important when speaking because you want to communicate well!

V (/v/) and F (/f/) sounds are paired together because they’re in the same position in your mouth when you say them. That definitely makes things a little easier.

We’ll break it down (make it in steps) for you, so you can say V and F sounds with ease (easily)!

V (/v/) Sound

The V sound is what is called a “voiced” sound. This means that you “buzz” your vocal cards to make the sound.

To make the V sound, gently bite (put your top teeth on) your bottom lip. It’s ok if it’s exaggerated a bit. That’s a great way to practice! From here, vibrate your vocal chords, and send air through your teeth. It should make a buzzing sound like a bee!

Try this a few times until you’re comfortable (okay, right, easy).

Once the sound feels right to you, move your teeth until your teeth only touch the back part of your bottom lip (instead of biting it). This is where the position should be!

The V sound appears (is) in these words:

  • love
  • live
  • vine
  • cave
  • knives
  • wolves
  • wave
  • save
  • drive
  • van
  • vest

Say these words again and again with the V sound so that you really get the sound down.

You’ve got this! You can do it!

F (/f/) Sound

The F sound is almost exactly like the V sound, but a little different. The F sound is called an “unvoiced” sound, which means you don’t use your vocal chords.

Place your teeth in the same position as the V sound: bite your bottom lip if it helps. Then, blow air through your teeth. That’s it!

No buzzing, like for a V sound.

Just like the V sound, practice the F sound until you’re comfortable. Then move your teeth back. They should just be touching the back of your bottom lip.

There should be a clear difference between the V and F sounds.

The F sound appears in these words:

  • leaf
  • four
  • wife
  • stuff
  • family
  • laugh*
  • graph*
  • knife
  • fight

Keep practicing with these words. You’ll be a professional in no time!

*Sometimes -gh and -ph can make an F sound. These words have the same sound as an F.

Words with Both Sounds

Some words have both sounds in them. They may be a little tricky, but they’ll help you learn. Try them out!

  • lifesaver
  • five
  • favorite
  • flavor
  • forgive
  • leftover

Are you already the master of v and f sounds? Do you have any tips for other students? Make sure to share them below! Or have you just learned the difference? Can you correctly pronounce the v and f sounds in English? Tell us how you did in the comments!

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Looking for grammar? Try Tricky Adjectives and Adverbs, when to use Which and That, Order of Adjectives, Its vs It’s, and Present Continuous tense!

Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, blogger, yoga instructor, and is very happy to live a happy life with her favorite friends, drinking wine from grapes off the vine, and laughing at funny stuff

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