John’s English Blog

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


Minimal pairs /e/ and /æ/


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

This exercise is about the sounds /e/ and /æ/. These are the vowels in bet and bat.

how to pronounce /e/

Lips: wide
Tongue part: front
Tongue height: half open
Tongue tension: tense
Duration: short

how to pronounce /æ/

Lips: wide
Tongue part: front
Tongue height: 34 open
Tongue tension: tense
Duration: short


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

Look out! There’s a bend in the road.
There’s a live band at the pub tonight.

England could win, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
A cricket bat is made of willow.

Is chocolate cake better than a Victoria sponge?
For the batter you will need four eggs, 8oz sugar, 8oz flour and 8oz butter.

“Old Marley was as dead as a doornail.”
“Father” is quite formal, normally we just say “dad”.

If you don’t know the answer, just guess.
Is your cooker electric or gas?

If you agree, nod your head.
Sorry, but I had to go.

Kenneth, but call me Ken.
I can see clearly now the rain has gone.

That’s a fine kettle of fish.
The cowboy watched the cattle grazing in the meadow.

I’ve left my wallet at home, can you lend me some money?
It’s a land flowing with milk and honey.

Don’t ask Boris to post a letter.
Vanilla or Chocolate? The latter, please.

We’re men, manly men.
No man is an island

Birds peck at seeds.
Pack your suitcase, we’re leaving.

To stop your car, press the brake pedal.
You’re up the creek without a paddle.

The pen is mightier than the sword.
Oops, I left the pan on the stove.

The other children didn’t like him, because he was the teacher’s pet.
You did well. You deserve a pat on the back.

You said, you were almost ready, nearly an hour ago.
I’m so sad you can’t come to my party.

Do you send your girlfriend flowers on her Birthday?
Is the beach made of sand or pebbles?

The teacher set a test for the end of term.
The students sat down and waited.

When you’re angry, count to ten before you speak.
She had a tan from the pleasant Spanish sun.

The cat is ill. We must take her to the vet.
Does the price include VAT?

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

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