Nov 11

Consonant Clusters 5 - "Br-"

Consonant Clusters 5: br-


The consonant cluster "br-" has a number of very interesting meanings. First of all, there seems to be a clear category of br- words that have been given “masculine” or “feminine” meanings, according to traditional gender roles.

The male br- words show man as the territorial, aggressive fighter. Such words include brave, brother,...

Nov 6

Consonant Clusters 4 - "Thr-"

Consonant Clusters 4 - "Thr-"


Thr- is one of the most difficult consonant clusters in terms of pronunciation for foreign students of English. It needs to be carefully distinguished from fr- and tr- or confusion can result.

Unfortunately, English has a number of similar-sounding words with these three clusters.

thr-fr-tr-three /Ɵri:/free /fri:/tree /tri:/through /Ɵru:/-true /tru:/thread...
Oct 17

Consonant Clusters 3 - "Fl-"

Consonant Clusters 3 "Fl-"


Fl- as a consonant cluster is often associated with quick, light movements e.g fly, float, fluid. This is often combined with the idea of horizontal or lateral movement. Some related words extend this idea of being horizontal (flattened) or lateral: floor, flat, flank (the side of something).

First, let’s look at the following verbs:

flap flop flash...
Sep 30

Consonant Clusters 2 - "Wh-"

Consonant Clusters 2: wh-


As well as having a lexical meaning, a number of consonant clusters have an onomatopoeic meaning. Onomatopoeic words imitate the sounds that they describe.

Typical examples are animal sounds, like “miaow”, to describe the noise a cat makes.

One sound like this is the wh- sound. If you say, ”wh-“ you will find that there is a lot of air breathed out from your...

Sep 25

Consonant Clusters 1 - "St-"

Consonant Clusters 1  ST-


English has a number of consonant clusters which have a phonosemantic meaning. This means that the groups of consonants have an underlying meaning.

The first consonant cluster we shall look at is st-, which often has a meaning of rigid or fixed. Linguists believe that the st- form comes from “stand” –...