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Pronunciation Practice - Minimal Pairs

It is important to hear and be able to pronounce the different vowel sounds.

Let's see how you do in this exercise. The answer is at the bottom of this blog.

Which word has a different vowel sound?

  1. palm, party, buy

  2. great, pick, stable

  3. saw, coffee, sunny

  4. crew, good, tool

  5. book, rough, gun

It is important for you to speak the words below. Please have some warm water to drink, while practicing to keep your vocal cords moist.

The first word has the æ sound. Say baa, like a sheep. the "aa" sound in baa, helps us to isolate this sound.

The second word has the neutral sound [ə] sound. It can be the stressed ʌ sound or unstressed ə. It is normally a stressed and short "uh" sound. The stressed ʌ and unstressed ə sounds are similar uh sounds. Your mouth should be relaxed and not open wide. The sound is just a small jaw drop as in "us". The difference doesn't matter for this exercise.

Now practice speaking these minimal pairs to hear the difference in the sound. It is important to speak them aloud to hear the difference.

  • cat cut

  • hat hut

  • cap cup

  • lack luck

  • sack suck

  • batter butter

  • ran run

  • bank bunk

  • track truck

  • snag snug

  • ban bun

  • dam dumb

  • sank sunk

  • drank drank

  • drank drunk

  • ankle uncle

  • rag rug

  • cab cub

  • paddle puddle

  • tramp trump

Answers: a. buy b. pick c. sunny d. good e. book


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