Consonants use some part of your vocal tract to stop, impair, or redirect the air flowing from your lungs. For instance, when you say ‘t,’ you stop the airflow by touching your tongue to the roof of your mouth just behind your teeth. Say “tub” and you can feel it. If you say “sit” you can feel that the ‘s’ sound is made by raising your tongue near the roof of your mouth and making a hissing sound. When you say “bat” you stop the air with your lips when you make the ‘b.’
The modification of the airflow is called articulation, where the modification takes place is called the place of articulation, and the way that it is modifying the airflow (stopping it, causing it to hiss, letting air through your nose) is called the manner of articulation. Just as vowels can be categorized by frontness, height, and rounding; consonants can be categorized by place and manner of articulation (Place and Manner of Articulation).
IPA Consonant Chart with English Highlited
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