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43 Minimal Pairs Examples: List for Pronunciation

minimal pairs list

What are Minimal Pairs?

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

For example, ship and sheep both sound the same. But they differ in 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 don’t 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.


  1. “Troy says:
    May 11, 2023 at 9:21 pm
    Is it possible to have words of minimal pairs (start with consonant b and end with z)?”

    Buzz – Bus

  2. So when someone mixes these minimal pairs how do you correct using consonant positions and consonant qualities?

  3. I am confused about the pairs. Why can’t there be more than one example, like “ship”, “sheep” and why not “shop”?

  4. It’s really educative
    With ample examples
    But all these examples requires phonemic transcription to understand it better
    But still good

  5. In my opinion I think it is not better to do the same pronunciation cause we have so many different cultures who have differ vowels sounds 🖊️

  6. Please can I have minimal pairs for the sounds ‘ au’ and ‘eu’.
    They are really difficult. Good job though 👍

    1. It depends where you’re teaching. If you’re in Asia, they don’t differentiate between those two sounds in their native language. That’s why students they find it challenging to make the short and long “i” sound. Hence, why it’s included as minimal pairs.

      1. Its true, the minimal pairs are challenging. It can create problems in communication when people hear or say a word that is received incorrectly. This creates miscommunication and sometimes difficult emotions for people.

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