Definition of consonant: A consonant is a letter (sound) of the English alphabet that is not a vowel.
What is a Consonant?
What does consonant mean? A consonant is most often identified as a letter that is not a vowel.
More specifically, a consonant is a sound that when paired with a vowel makes a syllable.
A consonant is any sound that a letter makes that is not a vowel sound.
What Letters are Consonants?
English consonant letters: B, C, D, F, G, H, J, K, L, M, N, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y (sometimes), Z
Consonant Examples in Words:
- “c” and “r” are consonants in this word
- “s” “t” “r” “m” are consonants in this word
- “d” is a consonant in this word
Consonants vs. Vowels
Consonants are not vowels. Vowels in the English language are A, E, I, O, U, (and sometimes Y).
Vowels, just like consonants, do not make syllables on their own. A vowel paired with a consonant makes a syllable.
Example of vowel in word:
- “i” is the vowel in this word
A syllable is a unit of sound that creates meaning in language. Consonants pair with vowels to create syllables.
Syllables can have more than one letter, more than on consonant, and more than one vowel, but they cannot have more than one sound.
- two syllables
- “mak”: two consonants “m” “k” plus one vowel “a”
- “er”: one vowel “e” plus one consonant “r”
- one syllable
- three consonants “s” “l” “w” and one vowel “o”
- three syllables
- “ba”: one consonant “b” plus one vowel “a”
- “na”: one consonant “n” plus one vowel “a”
- “na : one consonant “n” plus one vowel “a”
- one syllable
- two consonants “l” “n” plus one vowel “n”
Literary Devices That Use Consonants
The sound specifically created from consonants is used in the literary device called consonance.
Consonance is the repetition of similar consonant sounds within nearby words. It is, in a sense, the opposite literary device to alliteration.
Consonance, as with alliteration, is often used in poetry when writers use sound to create meaning.
Example of Consonance:
- the children seemed adorable and endearing
- the repetition of the “d” sound in these examples creates the consonance
The following is an example of consonance from American poet Emily Dickinson’s “’T was later when the summer went”:
‘T was later when the summer went
Than when the cricket came,
And yet we knew that gentle clock
Meant nought but going home.
The “t” sound in this example creates the consonance. Dickinson purposefully incorporates consonance into this poem to reflect her intention.
She wants to mimic the sound of the cricket and the sound of the clock. She does so, subtly, by including consonance.
Summary: What are Consonants?
Define consonant: the definition of consonant is one of a class of speech sounds that are enunciated by constricting or closing one or more points of the breath channel. Examples include, c, d, n, p, etc.
In summary, a consonant is a unit of sound (a letter) in English.
- Consonants are not vowels.
- When consonants combine with vowels, they create syllables.