/v/ or /b/?

If your mother tongue is Spanish, you may confuse the sounds /v/ and /b/ in English. Listen to these two words:

bowel vowel

So what is the difference?

  • /b/ is a plosive sound – you block the air fully with both lips and then release it.
  • /v/ is a fricative sound – you squeeze the air between the top teeth and lower lip.
  • Both sounds are voiced.
  • English indicates which of these sounds is to be pronounced in the spelling (except ‘of’ pronounced /əv/).

v-b

Drill: Sounds

ba aba ab
va ava av
bavab vabav

Drill: Words

bowel vowel
vine bine
ban van
vroom broom
jive jibe
rove robe

Drill: Sentences

A very beautiful berry.
Hoover the bathroom.
I love to rove the Balkans.
Basically, we’ve broken the blind.
It’s vastly better than before, Vicky.

Learn English IPA (44 sounds)

Use the interactive IPA chart and practice activities to master the sounds of English.