Minimal Pairs - /ɪ/ and /i:/ - Detailed Explanation

grammar minimal pairs pronunciation short video lessons vocabulary May 18, 2021
Fchzeqdcqn2uda5ikpxe u29mghijt9cnvfcm5xig screen shot 2018 12 05 at 09.36.38
English Classes and Online Courses - Kris Amerikos
Minimal Pairs - /ɪ/ and /i:/ - Detailed Explanation


As you may be aware, minimal pairs are two words that differ by a single sound and can be confusing for non-native learners of the English language.

Today we are going to focus on the vowel Minimal Pair - /ɪ/ and /i:/. 

Difference Between i and i:

/i:/ is a longer sound like EE - try saying ‘seem’:  did you notice the front tip of the tongue rising higher towards the tooth ridge?

/ɪ/ is a short sound - try saying ‘sim’, the front tip of the tongue lowers a little bit.

Let’s Practice:

Bin and Bean                                                                                                

  • Bin: a container for rubbish / Bean: edible seed
  • Beans are packed with nutrients.

Bit and Beat

  • Bit: a small part of something / Beat: to hit repeatedly
  • Practice keeping the beat, it is a bit off.

Chip and Cheap

  • Chip: a small thin piece / Cheap: low priced
  • Do not grin, the green bin was cheap as chips.

Chick and Cheek

  • Chick: baby bird / Cheek: soft part of the face below the eyes, on either side of the nose
  •  That chick with fluffy cheeks is my favorite.

Dip and Deep

  • Dip: to go down to lower level / Deep: far down from the top surface
  • I took a dip in the deep sea.

Did and Deed

  • Did: past tense of do / Deed: an action
  • Did you file the property deed with the land office?

Fill and Feel

  • Fill: to make full / Feel: to physically touch something or to experience an emotion
  • The dentist filled the hole in my tooth yesterday, I feel much better now.

Fit and Feet

  • Fit: healthy / Feet: plural of the foot (a part of the body)
  • Feet ache when shoes do not fit.

Fist and Feast

  • Fist: the hand closed tightly with fingers bent into the palm / Feast: special meal served at a party or celebration
  • She celebrated her wedding with a large feast for family and friends.

Grid and Greed

  • Grid: a pattern of straight lines that cross over each other vertically and horizontally / Greed: selfish and uncontrolled desire for more of something.
  • Greed can be deadly.

Grin and  Green

  • Grin: wide smile / Green: a colour
  • Do not grin, the green bin was cheap as chips.

Hid and Heed

  • Hid: past tense of hide (to keep out of sight) / Heed: to pay attention 
  • He did not heed the teacher's warning and kept chattering.

Hip and Heap

  • Hip: a joint that connects leg to upper body / Heap: an untidy pile of something
  • I fell on a heap of rocks and injured my hip.

Hit and Heat

  • Hit: to strike or be struck / Heat: high temperature
  • We were hit hard by the heat wave.

Hill and Heel

  • Hill: raise part of Earth’s surface smaller than a mountain / Heel: rounded back part of the foot.
  • I bumped my heel while running down the hill.

It and Eat

  • It: third person pronoun / Eat: to put food in the mouth and chew it.
  • Is it healthy to eat out?

Itch and Each

  • Itch: a sensation on the skin that makes you want to scratch / Each: every person or thing in a group.
  • Each one of us had an itchy rash.

Knit and Neat

  • Knit: to make a garment or cloth with yarn and needles / Neat: well-ordered or tidy
  • She can knit neatly.

Lick and Leak

  • Lick: move the tongue over a surface / Leak: to escape through a crack or hole in a pipe or container 
  • Call the plumber to fix the leak.

Lip and Leap

  • Lip: either of the two outer parts of the mouth / Leap: to jump
  • He leaped and fell and cut his lip.

List and Least

  • List: a set of information written one below the other / Least: smallest in size or degree
  • This list is the least I could do.

Live and Leave

  • Live: to have life / Leave: to go away from someone or something
  • Leave your worries behind and live in the moment.

Pip and Peep

  • Pip: a small seed of a fruit / Peep: a quick or secretive look
  • Some fruit pips are harmful to eat.

Pill and Peel

  • Pill: a small solid mass of medicine that is swallowed whole / Peel: to remove the outer covering
  • I will eat the peach after I peel it.

Pick and Peak

  • Pick: to pluck or to choose / Peak: highest or important point
  • Pick an alternate route to avoid peak hour traffic.

Pitch and Peach

  • Pitch: quality of sound / Peach: a stone fruit
  • I will eat the peach after I peel it.

Rich and Reach

  • Rich: wealthy / Reach: to arrive at a place
  • Work hard and you can get rich and reach the heights you deserve.

Rid and Read

  • Rid: to be free of something or someone unwanted / Read: an act of getting meaning by looking at written words
  • Read books to get rid of boredom.

Sit and Seat

  • Sit: a position when one’s bottom rests on a surface and supports the body / Seat: a place to sit 
  • The bike seat was so uncomfortable I couldn’t sit for long.

Ship and Sheep

  • Ship: a large boat / Sheep: farm animal with wool
  • He tried to seek the sick sheep on the ship.

Sick and Seek

  • Sick: unwell / Seek: search for or try to find
  • He tried to seek the sick sheep on the ship.

Sip and Seep

  • Sip: to drink with small mouthfuls / Seep: to pass slowly through small holes
  • Water was seeping through the cracks in the wall.

Slip and Sleep

  • Slip: to slide and fall / Sleep: state of resting your body with closed eyes
  • I am going to slip into bed and go to sleep.

Sin and Seen

  • Sin: an act against religious or moral laws / Seen: past particle of see
  • Murder is seen as a sin but not a death penalty.

Still and Steel

  • Still: not moving or making a sound / Steel: a hard tough metal
  • Steel is still the most important engineering material.

Win and Wean

  • Win : to succeed in a competition / Wean: to cause a child or young animal to stop taking mother’s milk and start eating solid food.
  • We will need to wean off fossil fuels to win the fight against climate change.

Will and Wheel

  • Will: to express future tense or someone’s ability to do something / Wheel: a circular simple machine that revolves on an axle
  • The wheel will turn.


What is English Everyday

English Everyday is an English course with 24/7 live speaking lessons for English learners who want unlimited speaking practice with native speakers, professional teachers, and students from around the world


You have live speaking lessons where you can join an unlimited amount of lessons every day. There's a lesson almost every hour and you can join all of them and also, you can review all record lessons. English Everyday contains a lot of conversation practice for each level of English (A2, B1-B2, C1), and also you have a calendar of scheduled lessons so you can see when lessons are and at what time you can join and start speaking.

In English Everyday program, you have 24/7 support and also you have student chat where you can speak with other students from all around the world. You can look at our feedback page so that you can know from which countries our students are. Before you join our program, we strongly recommend you sign up for our free seminar with Kris Amerikos, where you can learn:


  • What goals you need to have to get better results 
  • How to become fluent in English very quickly
  • What you need to do to have perfect pronunciation
  • The 3 biggest mistakes you need to avoid
  • Which free resources will help you learn English
  • The best resource to use to improve your speaking