What do minimal pairs mean?

minimal pairs list

What are Minimal Pairs?

The list of minimal pairs is perfect to practice English pronunciation because students have to distinguish between two similar sounds.

For example, ship and sheep both sound the same. But they differ with one sound.

If you want to define minimal pairs in linguistics, they are two similar-sounding words that differ in only one phonological element and have distinct meanings.

Here are a list and examples of a minimal pair to help listening comprehension, pronunciation practice, and countless other skills.

/R/ vs /L/ Minimal Pairs Examples

Grammar / Glamour
Royal / Loyal
Arrive / Alive
Ramp / Lamp
Bowling / Boring
Belly / Berry
Rock / Lock
Light / Right
Grow / Glow
Collect / Correct
Climb / Crime
Rag / Lag
Link / Rink
Gloom / Groom
Lice / Rice
Root / Loot
Elect / Erect
Cloud / Crowd
Lack / Rack
Ram / Lamb

/S/ vs /TH/ Minimal Pairs List

Sick / Thick
Mouth / Mouse
Sigh / Thigh
Song / Thong
Pass / Path
Sink / Think
Force / Fourth
Math / Mass
Thumb / Sum
Saw / Thaw
Myth / Miss
Thing / Sing
That / Sat

/F/ vs /V/ Minimal Pairs List

Fast / Vast
Fender / Vendor
Fan / Van
Refuse / Reviews
Foul / Vowel
Fairy / Very
Phase / Vase
Vine / Fine
Save / Safe

Minimal Pairs and Pronunciation Practice

Because some of these sounds dont exist in students native language, minimal pairs can go into uncharted territories.

If you want to take your English pronunciation lessons to the next level, then you can give these 5 free minimal pair worksheets a shot.

Alternatively, you can flat-out try out our 10 free pronunciation lesson plans.

How do you like working with minimal pairs? Let us know with a comment below.

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