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Minimal pairs

What are Minimal pairs?

Minimal pairs are pairs of words which differ by one sound and that sound causes the meaning of the word to change. For example:

To dye your hair is not the same as tie your hair.

Dye your hair
Dye Your Hair
Tie your hair
Tie Your Hair

As you can see, the only difference between the two words is the first, /d/ in dye and /t/ in tie.

How can minimal pairs improve my pronunciation?
Minimal pairs mainly improve your listening in that they train your ears to distinguish between two similar words which could otherwise be confusing to you. You can also use minimal pairs to train your muscles by concentrating on the sounds that you find more challenging to you. Let's say, for example, you are aware that you have a problem with pronouncing the /r/ sound like in [rice]. You are also aware that the transition from an /r/ to an /l/ or vice versa is particularly difficult for you. So you choose to tackle it by preparing a list of /r/ and /l/ minimal pairs and repeating it until you have gotten it under control.

How do I know which minimal pairs are good for me to practice?
The best way is to listen to each group of minimal pairs provided on this website and see if you are able to hear a difference. If they sound exactly the same to you, then you have a problem.
In this website, I have created two categories of minimal pairs, one for consonants and one for vowels.

MINIMAL PAIRS CONSONANTSMINIMAL PAIRS VOWELS

Rice-lice

Sheet-seat

Jello-cello

Beach-peach

Bali-volley

Vet-wet

Lather-ladder

Bays-bathe

Tummy-dummy

Mouth-mouse

Thirst-first

Fan-pan

Zip-sip

Buck-bug

Ride-right

Light-night

Hair-air

Wash-watch

Yell-gel

Year-ear

Color-cutter

Lawn-long

Can-cam

Asian-agin’

Beach-bitch

Bird-bored

Butt-bet

Butt-boot

Food-foot

Coat-court

Bag-beg

Calf-cough

Hell-hill

Bait-bet

Tile-tail