Minimal pairs lists

minimal pair

Minimal pairs lists

A minimal pair is a pair of words which differ only in one sound. They are a great way to help students become more aware of their difficulties with pronunciation. For example, students often struggle with the pairs “sheet” and “seat”, or “cat” and “cut”. They can really improve their pronunciation by practising these pairs.


[æ] [ʌ]
cat cut
ankle uncle
ran run
drank drunk
match much


[ɜ:] [ɔ:]
work walk
bird bored
fur for
shirt short
sir saw


[ʃ] [s]
ship sip
she sea
sure sore
shoot suit
shy sigh


[t] [θ]
tin thin
true through
tree three
taught thought
boat both


[r] [l]
fry fly
right light
grammar glamour
wrong long
wrist list


[v] [b]
vote boat
very berry
van ban
vest best
vet bet


[ɪ] [i:]
ship sheep
it eat
hit heat
bin bean
live leave


[æ] [eɪ]
hat hate
mad made
lack lake
back bake
cap cape


[s] [z]
sip zip
sue zoo
place plays
rice rise
ice eyes


[s] [θ]
sin thin
sum thumb
sank thank
sink think
saw thaw


[ŋk] [ŋ]
think thing
sank sang
bank bang
rink ring
sunk sung


[p] [b]
pin bin
pest best
pig big
pit bit
poured bored


[æ] [e]
bat bet
dad dead
pack peck
sad said
tan ten


[ɑ:] [ɔ:]
far four
tart taught
part port
farm form
barn born


[ʃ] [tʃ]
shoes choose
sheep cheap
wash watch
mash match
cash catch


[d] [ð]
doze those
day they
dare there
den then
dough though


[w] [v]
wine vine
west vest
while vile
wet vet
wary vary


[p] [f]
poor four
pair fair
pine fine
pill fill
please fleas


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