Minimal pairs for Spanish speaking learners of English

Ones in blue linked to graded lists of minimal pairs. Will add more as more lists go up. Article on pronunciation for Spanish speakers also now available here.

Updated 19 July 2020. If you like this and want more, please support TEFLtastic

Vowel sounds

a and ar (batter and barter, especially understanding non-rhotic speakers) – NEW LINK

a and u (cat and cut)

i and ee (bit and beat)

o and O (not and note)

O and or (boat and bought)

o and or (not and nought) – NEW LINK

u and oo (pull and pool)


b and v (ban and van)

ch and dj (cheap and jeep) – NEW LINK

ch and sh (cheese and she’s) – NEW LINK

d and th (den and then) – NEW LINK

dj and y (jot and yacht)

final d and t (hard and heart)

final k and g (hack and hag)

final n and ng (thin and thing)

g and w (especially with u and o sounds, e.g. go and woe) – NEW LINK

initial es and s (especially and specially)

s and sh (seep and sheep)

s and th (sin and thin)

s and z (said and zed) – final s and z list

Some problems with

comprehension of some pronunciations of r and w (red and wed, e.g. mine!) – NEW LINK

final b and p (cab and cap) – choose from full list here – and other b and p (ban and pan)

final m and n (span and spam)

final ng and nk (thing and think) – NEW LINK

other d and t (dad and tad) – initial t and d

other k and g (cad and gad) – initial k and g

Related pages

My minimal pairs page with teaching tips, PDFs and similar lists for Japanese and Korean learners

This entry was posted in minimal pairs, Teaching English in Spain. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Minimal pairs for Spanish speaking learners of English

  1. Silvia says:

    I’m Spanish and I’m an advanced learner of English, so I’ve been studying and practicing it for many years now. However, I still pronounce cat and cut the same way. And also bit and beat :) The vowel sounds are particularly tricky for us. I can tell the difference between this sounds when I heard a native speaker but I’m not able to distinguish them while I speak in usual conversation.

    Thanks for sharing, it’s being very useful, I’m trying hard to start saying this words right at last!

    I’m looking forward to the article on pronounciation for Spanish-speakers.

  2. Alex Case says:

    Thanks for the feedback Silvia. As I say in the upcoming article:
    – I wouldn’t worry too much about a and u because they are incredibly close and some people, e.g. New Yorkers, have no distinction between them
    – i and ee (= /i:/) is more important. It is usually more productive to focus on the mouth shape differences (e.g. mouth more spread for ee) rather than length.

  3. alexcase says:

    A few more links added.

  4. Cindy Arl says:

    Good morning Alex, When I go to the —- u and oo (pull and pool)… you can’t click on it and there’s no explanation as with the other links. Would you be able to add the link and complete explanation? Thank you.

  5. alexcase says:

    Hi Cindy. As far as I remember, I wasn’t able to find enough to make a whole list, so I’m afraid there’s no list to link to. If you find another suitable one online, please add it to comments here.

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