An ELT Glossary : Fricative consonants




Definition : Fricative consonants are formed when the two articulators move close together leaving only a small passage through which the airflow is forced, causing the air molecules to "bump together", thus creating audible friction. 

Examples from English: 

  • /f/ as in feet /fi:t/ : unvoiced labiodental fricative
  • /v/ and in very /veri:/ : voiced labiodental fricative
  • /θ/as in think /θɪŋk/: unvoiced dental fricative  
  • /ð/ as in that /ðæt/: voiced dental fricative
  • /s/ as in sew /səʊ/: unvoiced alveolar fricative
  • /z/ as in was /wɒz/: voiced alveolar fricative
  • /ʃ/ as in wash /wɒʃ/: unvoiced palato-alveolar fricative
  • /ʒ/ as in treasure /treʒə/: voiced palato-alveolar fricative

Fricatives are continuant sounds, ie sounds which can be made without stopping (until your lung air runs out). 


More reading from An ELT Notebook : English Consonant Sounds