Minimal pairs are two words whose pronunciation is different by only one sound – like reach and rich, or man and main. In this lesson, you’re going to practice your pronunciation of similar English words with minimal pairs exercises.
Minimal Pair #1 – bought / boat / but
The sound in bought is like in the words saw, call, and automatic. Notice that this sound can be spelled several different ways – the spelling of English words is often very different from their pronunciation!
Repeat after me:
bought / saw / call / automatic
The sound in boat is like in the words no, so, and slow.
boat / no / so / slow
Finally, the sound in but is the same as in cut, what, and sun.
but / cut / what / sun
Now practice all three words together:
bought / boat / but
Minimal Pair #2 – late / let
The vowel sound in late is the same as in the words name, take, and eight:
late / name / take / eight
The vowel sound in let is like in the words get, pen, and best.
let / get / pen / best
Repeat these minimal pairs:
late / let
pain / pen
wait / wet
main / men
Minimal pair #3 – bed / bad
Here we have the difference between the “eh” sound like in bed, head, said, and mess – and the “a” sound like in bad, had, mass, sad, and apple.
said / sad
bed / bad
mess / mass
head / had
Minimal pair #4 – feel / fell / fill
The “ee” sound in feel is like in see, meet, and be:
feel / see / meet / be
The “eh” sound in fell is like in the words egg, wet, and better:
fell / egg / wet / better
The “ih” sound in fill is like in will, it, sick, and miss:
fill / will / it / sick / miss
Now try the minimal pairs again:
feel / fell / fill
Minimal pair #5 – luck / look
The sound in luck is like in but, what, bus, and fun:
luck / but / what / bus / fun
The sound in look is like in took, book, and cook:
look / took / book / cook
Now try the minimal pair again:
luck / look
Minimal pair #6 – hat / heart / hot
Let’s practice the “a” sound again:
hat / cat / back / map
Now practice the “ar” sound:
heart / dark / start / park
Now practice this sound:
hot / not / body / got
Finally, practice the minimal pair again:
hat / heart / hot
Speak English more clearly & confidently!
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