John’s English Blog

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


Minimal pairs /e/ and /ʌ/


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

This exercise is about the sounds /e/ and /ʌ/. These are the vowels in bet and but.

how to pronounce /e/

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

how to pronounce /ʌ/

Lips: oval
Tongue part: centre
Tongue height: almost completely open
Tongue tension: relaxed
Duration: short


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

I like to stay in bed on Sunday morning.
Bad behaviour must be nipped in the bud.

But that is my best shirt.
His business went bust, so now he’s got no money.

Did you bet on the Grand National?
He’s good, but he’s not that good.

It’s better than a kick in the teeth, isn’t it?
Butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth.

You’re not doing that. Over my dead body!
She lit the firework, but nothing happened. It was a dud.

I’ll be away at the weekend, so you’ll have to fend for yourself.
The accountant found a hole in the pension fund.

This skirt is too long. Can you take up the hem?
What’s that hum? Is the computer making that noise?

The climber used an old-fashioned hemp rope.
The camel’s hump stores fat.

He’s not serious. He’s just pulling your leg.
Let’s go to the hotel. I don’t want to lug my suitcase around all day.

The trapeze artist performed without a safety net.
Do you have a nut allergy?

Have you got a motorbike or a pedal bike?
The children jumped in the puddle.

The sheep are in the pen.
The class groaned, because the teacher made another pun.

If you’re tired, why don’t you rest?
He left the bicycle outside all winter and now it had rust on it.

We don’t own a house, we rent a flat.
A runt is the smallest weakest animal of a group born at the same time.

You can’t send an elephant by post.
The tourists sunned themselves on the beach.

Common sense isn’t so common.
Is it your car or your son’s?

The Sex Pistols only made one album.
Is that hoover any good? Well, it sucks.

His daughter is ten.
If your parents find out, they’ll come down on you like a ton of bricks.

You can walk to the shop, but it’s a bit of a trek.
We’ll have no truck with their sort.

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

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