Skip to main content

Minimal Pair Practice

If you know which particular sounds you have difficulty with, try repeating words and phrases containing those words can be a useful way of working on your pronunciation, though it takes much longer than this to really make the sort of impact you want.

You may like to have a go at repeating the following pairs of words on your own. Remember, the two words should sound different from each other. Try recording yourself and see if you can hear a difference between the pairs. If you are unsure of the pronunciation of these, you can check the phonetic transcription in the dictionary. The list is adapted from http://esl.about.com/library/lessons/blminimal.htm

click to listen to Column 1

Download

click to listen to Column 2

Download

click to listen to Column 3

Download

awning – earning

azure – assure

bed – bad

beg – bug

beige – bays

better – butter

blessed – blast

boot – boat

boot – butt

but – boot

call – curl

care – chair

catch – cash

caught – curt

chute – shut

cod – card

commended–commanded

consort – concert

curse – coarse

deft – daft

dug – dog

empire – umpire

export – expert

fair – fear

fled – flood

form – firm

fur – fear

goon – gun

hell – hull

jest – just

know – now

lawn – learn

leak – lick

leather – lather

left – laughed

lest – last

lit – light

look – luck

many – money

mood – mud

net – nut

noon – none

noon – nun

pawed – purred

 

pay – bay

pest – passed

read – lead

read – red

ready – ruddy

saw – sought

shorts – shirts

sing – sang

sock – suck

soon – son

soot – suit

spoon – spun

steady - study

super - supper

thirst - first

vest - vast

walk - work

whistle - thistle

whom - hum

why - way

wreath - wreathe

zoo - sue

 
 
 
The text was prepared by Dr Gerard Sharpling, Magdalena Kijak and June McCready,
Centre for Applied Linguistics, University of Warwick