John’s English Blog

I’m John, an English language teacher. Welcome to my blog.


Minimal pairs /ʊ/ and /uː/


A minimal pair is a pair of words which differ by only one sound such as pull and pool.

This exercise is about the sounds /ʊ/ and /uː/. These are the vowels in pull and pool.

how to pronounce /ʊ/

Lips: rounded
Tongue part: back
Tongue height: fairly high
Tongue tension: tense
Duration: short

how to pronounce /uː/

Lips: rounded
Tongue part: fully back (further back than /ʊ/)
Tongue height: very high (higher than /ʊ/)
Tongue tension: tense
Duration: long


Listen to the video for the minimal pairs below.
Record yourself and listen to yourself.

A bull is a male cow.
The Reverend Boole invented Boolean algebra.

I could do with a nice cup of tea.
The pigeons cooed, it was a soft gentle sound.

My glass is half full.
Don’t be stupid. Any fool can see that.

Little Red Riding Hood didn’t wear a hat.
That’s not obvious. Who’d think of that.

The new teacher is strange, a bit kooky even.
Would you like a double chocolate chip cookie?

Look before you cross the road.
Use the force Luke.

I hate to tell you, but the cat has pooed on the rug.
That was delicious chicken. What’s for pud?

Pull the door to open it.
Let’s go for a swim in the pool.

I should really do my homework.
She shooed away the pigeons by waving her arms.

The chimney was full of soot.
He wore his best suit for the wedding.

The cook stewed the pears until they were tender.
The teacher stood at the front of the class.

You can’t see the wood for the trees.
The politician wooed the voters with impossible promises.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. If you have any comments, questions or corrections please write them below.

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