John’s English Blog

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


Minimal pairs /ɔ:/ and /ɒ/


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

This exercise is about the sounds /ɔ:/ and /ɒ/. These are the vowels in short and shot.

how to pronounce /ɔ:/

Lips: rounded
Tongue part: back
Tongue height: half open
Tongue tension: relaxed
Duration: long

how to pronounce /ɒ/

Lips: rounded
Tongue part: fully back
Tongue height: almost fully open
Tongue tension: relaxed
Time: short


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

I bought some new jeans yesterday. Do you like them?
One day you will learn English with a chat bot.

The kitten clawed the sofa.
Tom threw a clod of earth at Sid.

You talk too much. Put a cork in it.
The cock crowed at the crack of dawn.

The kidnapper tied his victim with cord.
Do you fancy some cod and chips?

Do you like corn on the cob?
If it sounds to good to be true, it’s probably a con.

The girl threw the ball in the air and caught it.
The baby is asleep in the cot.

It’s a long trip tomorrow so we’ll set off at dawn.
You’ll have to don a tie for the meeting.

Would you set out the knives and forks?
Have you read Fantastic Mr Fox?

Fresh cream cakes are naughty but nice.
That’s a knotty problem.

Morse code is made of dots and dashes.
Moss grows in damp shady places.

GDP grew by 0.3% (nought point three percent) last quarter.
I think not.

I’ll be back in a minute. Could you order me a beer?
You’re behaving even odder than usual.

The barman poured a Whisky.
They’re like two peas in a pod.

I haven’t burnt the chicken. It’s just a scorch.
A proper scotch egg is the ultimate picnic snack.

That’s very short hair. Did you have it cut or shorn?
It was a lovely day and the sun shone threw the window.

I’m taking a short break in London.
I shot the sheriff.

The pen is mightier than the sword.
The gardener was laying sod to make a new lawn.

Do you like watching or practising sport?
There’s a spot of ink on your shirt.

I taught many foreign students.
The youngest child is just a tiny tot.

Fishermen trawl for fish with huge nets.
Under the bridge lived a great ugly troll.

No, a toad can’t give you a wart.
What is in a name?

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

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