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[v] vs. [w] Consonant Sounds | English Pronunciation Lesson for Turkish and Iranian/Farsi/Persian Speakers

Some English language learners, such as Turkish and Iranian Persian (Farsi) speakers, mix up the [v] and [w] sounds in English. But because native English speakers clearly distinguish these two sounds, mixing up the [v] and [w] can lead to confusion.

Example

Listen to the differences in the sounds of the following words.

  • vow” vs. “wow”
  • veal” vs. “wheel”

Here, the only difference between the two pairs of words were the consonant [v] and [w] sounds. So mixing them up could cause confusion.

Wh-questions

The [w] sound in wh-questions are also often mispronounced as a [v].

Example

  • “why” –> “vy”
  • “what” –> [vʌt]
  • “when” –> “ven”

How to Produce the [v] and [w] Sounds in English

The most important things to remember when producing the [v] and [w] consonant sounds are:

1) the shape of your lips; and

2) the placement of your teeth.

[v]

To produce the [v] sound:

  1. the top teeth make contact with the bottom lip (on it or just behind it); then
  2. blow air and vibrate the bottom lip.
  • [v]
  • [v]

[w]

To produce the [w] sound:

  1. round your lips into a kiss position;
  2. let the air glide through your lips; then
  3. release.
  • [w]
  • [w]

So remember, to produce the [v] sound, make sure those top teeth touch just behind the bottom lip. But when producing the [w] sound, there should be no contact between the teeth and the lips. Just think of a kiss! [w].

Got it? Let’s practice.

Listen and Repeat

  • “I like the wheels on my new car very much.”
  • We couldn’t reveal the surprise!”
  • Where are you going?” <– notice the [w] sound in the [ow] vowel sound]
  • “Don’t think about work while on vacation.”
  • What do you want for Valentine’s Day?” (notice that “do you” –> [dyə])

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