Consonant Sounds 4: Place of Articulation

Place of Articulation:

Video Explanation:

The two components used to make consonant sounds are:

1) The place of articulation (the ‘where’ the sounds are made)


2) The articulators (the ‘what’ are used to make the sounds)

The ‘articulators’ are the instruments (e.g. your tongue) used to make a sound. The locations on the mouth, where the articulators are placed, are the ‘places of articulation’.


The two lips (the articulators) meet to form the bilabial sounds of /b/ and /p/.

The tip of the tongue – the articulator – meets with the alveolar ridge – the place of articulation (which is right behind the front teeth) – in order to form the alveolar sounds of /d/ and /t/.

There are seven places of articulation used to distinguish consonant sounds:

Places of Articulation

Bilabial (or ‘two lips’): Produced with the two lips: /b, p, m, w/ (as in ‘buy, pie, my, and wool’).

Labiodental (or ‘lip and teeth’): Produced with the upper teeth and inner lower lip: /f, v/ (as in ‘feel and veal’).

Interdental (or ‘between teeth’): Produced with the tongue tip on or near the inner surface of the upper teeth: /θ/, /ð/ (as in ‘thick and then’).

Alveolar (or ‘behind teeth’): Produced with the tongue tip on or near the tooth ridge: /t, d, s, z, n, l/ (as in ‘to, do, zoo, new, and light’).

Palatal (or ‘top middle of mouth’): Produced by the body of the tongue touching the roof of the mouth (in the palatal area): /ʃ, ʒ, ʧ, ʤ, r, j-y/ (as in ‘shin, genre, chef, judge, red, and yes’).

*Note that the /ʃ, ʒ, ʧ, ʤ/ sounds are all pronounced with the front of tongue places on the top of mouth while the /j-y/ one is pronounced with more of the rear of the tongue placed a bit further back on the palate than /ʃ, ʒ, ʧ, ʤ/. Finally, the /r/ sound is made with the sides of the tongue placed on the sides of the roof of the mouth pressed against the teeth. 

Velar (or ‘top of throat’): Produced with the tongue body on or near the soft palate: /g, k, ŋ/ (as in ‘go, kite, and bang’).

Glottal (or ‘from the throat’): Produced by air passing from the windpipe through the vocal cords: /h/ (as in ‘hi’).


Chart Awareness: 

Referring back to the Underhill chart (1996) the consonant sounds have been organized in the first two rows, from left to right, by a progression of moving the place of articulation farther back in the mouth e.g. the first row begins with the bilabial /p/ (front of mouth) and ends with the velar /g/ (back of mouth).

Place of Articulation: First Two Rows

p b t d ʧ ʤ k g
f v θ ð s z ʃ ʒ
bilabial bilabial alveolar alveolar palatal palatal velar velar
labiodental labiodental interdental interdental alveolar alveolar palatal palatal

Movement of tongue —————————————————————————->

NOTE: The third row does not follow any particular pattern concerning the place of articulation.

m n ŋ h l r w j/y
Bilabial Alveolar Velar Glottal Alveolar Palatal Bilabial Palatal

Comprehension Check: Quiz Time!

Phonology Quiz 5: Place of Articulation