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Difference Between Vowels and Consonants

A B

The first two letters of the English alphabet are A and B.

A is a vowel.

B is a consonant.

So? What’s the difference between vowel and consonant?


The difference is actually very simple:
To say A you open your mouth.
To say B you close your mouth.

In general, when you say a vowel you do not block the flow of air.
But when you say a consonant, you block the flow of air, for example by

  • pressing your lips together (as for B)
  • pressing your bottom lip against your teeth (as for F)
  • pressing your tongue against the top of your mouth (as for L)
The above is a gross simplification of vowels versus consonants. It shows vowels and consonants that are letters of the alphabet, but in reality when we speak we use more sounds than the 26 letters of the alphabet. Yet the basic difference remains the same:
  • with vowel sounds we do not block the air flow
  • with consonant sounds we block the air flow, at least partially