Difference Between Pharynx and Larynx

Pharynx vs Larynx

Many people very often confusingly refer pharynx as larynx and vice versa, as both those organs are located closely and sound a little similar. However, these two differ from each other in many aspects. As a starting point, the larynx associates mainly with the nervous system and the respiratory system, whereas pharynx associates with both respiratory and digestive systems. This article provides many more differences exhibited between these two organs in the body with their functions and it would be worthwhile to read.


Pharynx is a region in the throat, which is posterior to the nasal and oral cavities, superior to the esophagus. There are three major distinct regions of the pharynx known as nasopharynx, oropharynx, and laryngopharynx. Except the nasopharynx, the other two regions are common for both respiratory and digestive systems. The nasopharynx is the cavity around the nasal cavity, the mostcephalad portion of the region, and it extends from the base of the skull to the upper surface of the soft palate. The Eustachian tube opens into the nasopharynx, and which is important to maintain the pressure of the auditory system. As the terminology indicates, the oropharynx is located posterior to the oral cavity. The laryngopharynx is the most posterior portion of the pharynx, and that connects with the oesophagus and the larynx. However, out of all the three parts of the pharynx, the nasopharynx is the most complex structure and the other two are simple cavities.


Larynx is commonly known as the voice box, as it is the particular organ that makes the sound out of exhaling air from the lungs. The larynx is located at the junction of the trachea and oesophagus, and it opens into the laryngopharynx. Apart from the main function of producing sound, larynx passively prevents food particles from entering into the respiratory system or the trachea by acting as a barrier. There are vocal cords in the larynx organised in such a way that a good audible sound is produced. These cords are held together by a set of nine cartilages inside the larynx. When the exhaling air being sent out of the lung, the vocal cords are vibrated and the sound is produced, and finally the tongue manipulates those into words. The speed of airflow inside the larynx controls the frequency, known as the pitch. According to the endocrinal and nervous changes, the pitch and the weight (loudness) of the voice or sound differ. The amphibians were the first known animals to have a larynx for sound production in terms of communication, but recent research studies have revealed that most of the fish species have their own means of sound production through larynx-like organs. However, in humans, the particular quality of the sound or voice is unique for each individual. In other words, no matter how a person tries to change his or her voice through many of the ways, the particular wave has a special quality that is unique to him or her. That means, the vocal cord vibrations and other structures related to larynx are unique for each individual.


What is the difference between Pharynx and Larynx?

• Although the two terms sound alike, the location and functions are different.

• Larynx is mainly an organ while pharynx is a set of regions.

• Pharynx has three different regions, whereas larynx has different structures to produce sound.

• The pharynx connects nasal airflow with trachea and food pathway from the oral cavity to the oesophagus. However, the larynx mainly produces sound and passively stops food and other particles being entered into the respiratory system.

• Larynx is a part of the respiratory system while pharynx is a part of both digestive and respiratory systems.

• Larynx is made up of cartilages, but pharynx is muscular.

• Larynx has voice chords but, not in pharynx.