Consonant cluster

From Teflpedia

A consonant cluster (/kɒnsənənt klʌstə/) is a group of consonants in a word with no vowel(s) separating them. Very common in English, this phenomenon is particularly difficult for speakers of languages such as Spanish, Arabic and Japanese, where vowel/consonant or consonant/vowel follow each other quite strictly.

Consonant clusters can occur at the beginning of a word, in the middle, and/or at the end. Linking further hinders understanding for students.

Examples of clusters[edit | edit source]

initial consonant clusters

Note: Don't confuse consonant sounds with consonant letters. For example system /ˈsɪstəm/ begins with only one consonant and not 4, because "y" is a vowel in this case. See Decoding the letter Y.

Beginning[edit | edit source]

English words can have up to three consonants at the beginning of a word:

  • screw; split; spring; strange; street; stream;

Middle[edit | edit source]

English words can have four or even five consonants in the middle of a word. In these cases they will be in different syllables.

  • handspring /nd.spr/
  • abstract /b.str/
  • extra /k.str/
  • explain /k.spl/
  • instruct /n.str/
  • sightscreen /t.skr/
  • watchstrap /tʃ.str/ (/tʃ/ counts as only one consonant)

Ending[edit | edit source]

Although not very frequent, English words can have up to four consonants at the end of a word:

  • attempts /mpts/
  • glimpsed /mpst/
  • sixths /ksθs/
  • twelfths /lfθs/
  • thousandths /ndθs/

References[edit | edit source]