Minimal Pairs - /æ/ and /e/

grammar minimal pairs pronunciation short video lessons vocabulary May 11, 2021
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Minimal Pairs - /æ/ and /e/

Minimal Pairs - As you know minimal pairs are words that differ by only one sound. This sound can be a vowel or a consonant (English alphabet has 26 letters - 5 are vowels and rest consonants)


Difference Between /æ/ and /e/

Let’s talk about minimal pairs /æ/ and /e/ - what’s the difference-?

Try saying ‘bed’ – when you make the /e/ sound, your tongue is in the front part of your mouth and raised a little towards your palate. 

Now say ‘bad’ – when you make the /æ/ sound, your tongue is low, and your mouth opens wide.

Focus on the pronunciation, listen to the sounds and repeat.


Words Examples With Sentences

  • Bet / Bat

  • Bet - a wager / Bat - a specially shaped wooden piece to hit a ball
  • I bet he will bat better this time around.


  • Beg / Bag

  • Beg - to make a strong request / Bag – a container with handles made of leather, plastic, paper, or cloth
  •  Please do not beg, I will lend you that bag.


  • Bend / Band

  • Bend – to make something change shape or someone submit / Band – a group of musicians
  •  We cannot bend the rules and take you in the band.


  • Blend / Bland 

  • Blend – mixture / Bland – flavorless
  • This spice blend is very bland.


  • Celery / Salary 

  •  Celery - a green plant / Salary - wage
  •   You can try selling celery to earn a salary.


  • End / And

  • End - to finish or stop / And – conjunction used to connect words or parts of a sentence
  • They argued and that was the end of their relationship.


  • Fest / Fast

  •  Fest - a festival / Fast - quickly
  •   The fest fast turned into a nightmare.


  • Fleshy / Flashy

  • Fleshy – overweight / Flashy - expensive or brightly coloured
  • He is fleshy and wears flashy clothes.


  • Kettle / Cattle

  • Kettle – a container to boil water / Cattle - bovine animals (cows, bulls, etc) kept for milk and meat
  •  You use a kettle to boil water, not cattle.


  • Dead / Dad

  •   Dead – not living / Dad - father
  •   Their dad has been dead for 10 years.


  • Gem / Jam

  •   Gem – precious or semi-precious stone / Jam - fruit spread
  •   I bought some jam and chocolate gems.


  • Hem / Ham

  • Hem – edge of a cloth folded over and sewn / Ham – smoked and salted upper part of pig leg
  • She tried to steal the ham by stuffing it in the hem.


  • Lend / Land 

  • Lend – to give something with the condition it will be returned after sometime / Land – part of Earth’s surface not underwater.
  •  Can you lend me the money to buy that land?


  • Letter / Latter

  •  Letter – a written message delivered by mail/ Latter – second of two things or people
  •  The latter half of the letter was quite offensive.


  • Men / Man

  • Men – plural of man / Man – a male human being
  •  Can one man fight 10 men?


  • Mesh / Mash

  • Mesh – interwoven or intertwined / Mash – crushing something to a pulp
  • Use this mesh to strain the mash.


  • Merry / Marry

  •   Merry - happy / Marry - marriage
  •   I am going to marry a merry girl.


  • Melody / Malady 

  • Melody- a musical tune / Malady – disorder or sickness
  • This soothing melody will help you deal with the malady.


  • Pen / Pan

  • Pen – instrument for writing or drawing / Pan – a container used for cooking
  • I asked you for a pen and you got me a pan.


  • Pet / Pat

    •   Pet – domestic animal / Pat – a popular name or to stroke with a hand
    •   Pat got a new pet bird.


  • Peck / Pack

  •  Peck – a quick kiss / Pack – to fill a space
  •  He gave her a peck on the cheek and started to pack his bags.


  • Pedal / Paddle

  • Pedal – a foot lever to control certain vehicles / Paddle – an oar to row a boat
  • He hit the pedal with a paddle and broke it.


  • Said / Sad

  •  Said – a past form of say / Sad - unhappy
  •   John said he was sad.


  • Send / Sand

  • Send – dispatch / Sand – a granular material
  • Could you please send in a truckload of sand immediately?


  • Shell / Shall

  • Shell – a hard outer covering of nuts, eggs, some fruit or animals / Shall – modal verb for future tense or to express intention
  • What shall I do with all these shells?


  • Ten / Tan

  •  Ten – a number after 9 / Tan – having dark skin after being in sun for long
  • A spray tan can last up to ten days.


  • Temper / Tamper

  • Temper – prone to anger / Tamper – to change something in order to cause damage
  •  He lost his temper when he caught his son tempering with the alarm.


  • Trek / Track

  •  Trek – to walk a long distance / Track – rough path or road
  •  We went for a trek and found a great spot, off the beaten track.


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