Thursday, 3 December 2009

Minimal pairs

Minimal pairs are pairs or more words that can often be confused while speaking, we have to be very careful because they only change in one phonological element for example work /wɜ:k/, walk/wɔ:k/ and woke /wəʊk/ although the phonetic transcription changes the pronunciation is almost the same so we have to be very careful about it.

Here there are some examples of minimal pairs

a. Ship - sheep

b. Cheap - chip

c. Cat - cut

d. Kite - coat

e. Bought - boat

f. Hit - heat

g. Bins - beans

In the following colums I enlist the most dificult minimal pairs phonemes

Minimal pairs in vowels


Word Pair

/ɒ/ and /ɔ:/

Cop and cope

/e/ and /eI/

Pen and pain

/I/ and /i:/

List and least

/ʊ/ and /u:/

Look and luke

/æ/ and /ʌ/

Cat and Cut

Minimal pairs in consonats


Word pair

/p/ and /b/

Peach and beach

/b/ and /v/

Boat and vote

/l/ and /r/

Alive and arrive

/ and /s/

Thing and Sing

/dʒ/ and /j/

John and Yawn

1 comment:

  1. Your tables are very useful to show examples of minimal pairs, José.

    As you mention at the beginning of the post, minimal pairs only differ in one phoneme, although as we can see from your example, dipthongs are considered as a single phoneme (as in WOKE). And although they may sound very similar, it is important to note that minimal pairs are pronounced differently, therefore making it particularly important that we pronounce them correctly.

    Do you know of any useful websites which could be used to help us become more familiar with minimal pairs?