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Vowels vs. Consonants — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on October 17, 2023
Vowels and Consonants are both types of letters in the alphabet. Vowels include the letters A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y, while Consonants are all the other letters that are not vowels.
Vowels vs. Consonants — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Vowels and Consonants


Key Differences

Vowels and Consonants serve as foundational building blocks of words in the English language. A word in English cannot exist without a vowel, whereas words without consonants do exist. Vowels create the vocal sounds that resonate, while Consonants provide closures or constrictions of vocal tracts.
The English language recognizes A, E, I, O, U, and occasionally Y as Vowels. They can stand alone and be a word on their own, like "a" or "I". On the other hand, Consonants are letters that are not vowels, and they require a vowel to form a syllable. Examples of Consonants include letters like B, C, D, F, and G.
Vowels offer more vocal variation than Consonants. Each vowel can be pronounced in a short or long manner, giving a word its specific sound. Consonants, conversely, typically have one specific sound that doesn't change based on the word's context, although there are exceptions like the soft "c" in "city" versus the hard "c" in "cat".
Phonetically speaking, Vowels are voiced sounds made without significant constriction of airflow in the mouth. Consonants involve a greater obstruction of the oral passage, often using the lips, teeth, or tongue. For instance, the "b" sound in "bat" is formed by briefly blocking airflow with the lips.
In written English, both Vowels and Consonants are essential for creating meaning. They come together to form syllables, words, and sentences. Vowels often carry the tonal quality of a word, while Consonants provide the structure and rhythm.

Comparison Chart

Letters in English

A, E, I, O, U, sometimes Y
All other letters not listed as vowels

Role in Words

Can form a word by themselves
Typically require a vowel to form a syllable

Phonetic Nature

No significant constriction of airflow
Constriction using lips, teeth, or tongue

Variation in Sound

Can have short or long sounds
Typically one sound, some exceptions exist

Existence in Words

Words must have at least one vowel
Words can exist without consonants

Compare with Definitions


Letters in the alphabet that represent open sounds without constriction.
A and e.


Sounds in speech produced by a closure or constriction of the vocal tract.
The first sound in chat is made by a Consonant, ch.


Vocal sounds that form the nucleus of syllables in words.
Every word in English must contain at least one of the Vowels.


The structure-giving sounds in words that often determine the word's rhythm.
Consonants give the word stretched its unique rhythm and sound.


The resonant sounds in a language that can create tonal variations in words.
The Vowels in mate and mat give the words different meanings.


Letters that typically need a vowel to form a syllable or word.
The Consonants in grab are g, r, and b.


Sounds produced without any significant closure in the oral cavity.
The word eye has a long vowel sound.


Any letter that is not A, E, I, O, U, or sometimes Y in English.
P, Q, and R are all Consonants in the English language.


The letters A, E, I, O, U, and occasionally Y in the English language.
U is the last of the primary Vowels in the English alphabet.


Letters in the English alphabet that are not vowels.
B, C, and D are examples of Consonants.


A speech sound, such as (ē) or (ĭ), created by the relatively free passage of breath through the larynx and oral cavity, usually forming the most prominent and central sound of a syllable.


Being in agreement or accord
Remarks consonant with our own beliefs.


A letter, such as a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes y in the English alphabet, that represents a vowel.


Corresponding or alike in sound, as words or syllables.


Plural of vowel


Harmonious in sound or tone.


A speech sound produced by a partial or complete obstruction of the air stream by any of various constrictions of the speech organs, such as (p), (f), (r), (w), and (h).


A letter or character representing such a speech sound.


Plural of consonant

Common Curiosities

Which letters are considered Consonants?

Any letter that is not a vowel is a Consonant.

Can a word exist without Vowels?

No, every English word must have at least one vowel.

Do Consonants always sound the same?

Mostly, but some have multiple sounds, like "c" in "cat" and "city."

What are the main Vowels in English?

The main Vowels are A, E, I, O, and U.

Are there words without Consonants?

Yes, words like "a," "I," and "ooh" don't have Consonants.

How are Vowels pronounced?

Vowels are pronounced without significant constriction of airflow.

Can Y be considered a vowel?

Yes, in certain words like "cry" or "gym," Y acts as a Vowel.

Why are Vowels important in words?

Vowels often determine the tone and meaning of words.

Are there more Vowels or Consonants in English?

There are more Consonants than Vowels in the English alphabet.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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