Minimal Pairs - /ɪ/ and /i:/

grammar minimal pairs pronunciation short video lessons vocabulary May 18, 2021
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Minimal Pairs - /ɪ/ and /i:/
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Minimal Pairs - /ɪ/ and /i:/                                                             Preeti Lamba

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.

Well done! 

This is not an exhaustive list, I am sure you will come across many more pairs in the future.

Keep practicing, Happy learning!

ENGLISH EVERYDAY