How to Pronounce Consonant Blends

A consonant blend (or consonant cluster)  is when two or more consonants appear next to each other. They are not to be confused with consonant digraphs, where the two letters make one sound (ex. ch, ph, sh, th, wh, ck). In a consonant blend, you can hear the two sounds as you say the consonants, although they form one syllable. (See this article for more on syllables!) 

They can appear at the beginning of a word, as in:

  • st in stick
  • fr in fried
  • cr in credit

Or at the end of a word:

  • sk in risk
  • st in fast
  • nt in rent
  • nd in found

Two-Letter L-Blends 

When the second letter in a 2-letter consonant cluster is an L, it’s called an l-blend.

  • bl – blog, blue, black, blurb
  • cl – click, clip, clean, clock
  • fl – flat, flute, flirt, flimsy
  • gl – glass, glare, glasses, glean
  • pl – plead, plus, plan, plant
  • sl – slim, slap, slurp, sleeve

Two-Letter R-Blends

When the second letter in a 2-letter consonant cluster is an R, it’s called an r-blend.

  • br – brain, brown, bright, brim
  • cr – crab, crumb, crib, cry 
  • dr – draw, dream, drain, dress
  • fr – from, freezer, free, freedom
  • gr – grade, great, grocery, grueling
  • pr – practice, prove, pretzel, prevent
  • tr – truck, try, trust, tray

 

Two-Letter S-Blends & T-Blends

When the first letter of a 2-letter consonant blend is an S, it’s an s-blend, and when it’s a T, it’s a t-blend.

  • sc – scale, scare, scarf, score
  • sk – skirt, skate, skin, ask
  • sm – smack, smart, smell, small 
  • sn – snack, snicker, sneak, snow 
  • sp – speak, spend, wisp, clasp
  • st – stop, sturdy, list, pest
  • sw – swallow, swift, sworn, swell
  • tw – twirl, tweet, twitter, twelve

Three-Letter Consonant Blends

Some consonant blends consist of 3 consecutive consonants – you still say the sound of each letter when you pronounce them, but they are all part of one syllable. 

  • scr – scrunch, scrape, scream, screech
  • spl – splash, splendid, spleen, splint
  • spr – spree, sprawl, sprint
  • str – strict, strobe, struck, stray
  • thr – three, thrice, thrash, throat

Need help?

Some of these combinations can be tricky, so don’t worry if you don’t get them right away!  Would you like a little more coaching on your pronunciation with a professional ESL teacher?  To learn more about English pronunciation and practice it in conversation, join SpeakUp, a dynamic program that engages you in authentic conversations on relevant topics and provides you with feedback from a professional experienced English teacher.  The first week is free for you to try it out!  

Sabine Hobbel

Sabine Hobbel

Sabine Hobbel has been helping people improve their English since 2004; the knowledge she gained from completing her Master's degrees in Psychology and in English helps her every day. She has lived in 4 different English-speaking countries and she currently lives in the Italian Alps.
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