John’s English Blog

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


Minimal pairs /ɑː/ and /ɔ:/


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

This exercise is about the sounds /ɑː/ and /ɔ:/. These are the vowels in part and port.

how to pronounce /ɑː/

Lips: oval
Tongue part: almost fully back
Tongue height: fully open
Tongue tension: tense
Duration: long

how to pronounce /ɔ:/

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


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

“Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” Oscar Wilde
You ought to do your homework.

I can never eat just half a bar of chocolate.
“A bore is a man who, when you ask him how he is, tells you.” Bert Leston Taylor

William Shakespeare was known as the Bard of Avon.
I’ll have the cheese board, please.

Cows live in a barn.
There’s one born every minute.

Why this car could be systematic.
“Peel and core the apples, then quarter and cut in to chunks.”

Don’t forget to send me a Christmas card.
Two or more notes played at the same time are known as a chord.

Buying a new suit before you get your invitation is putting the cart before the horse.
He was caught red handed.

Do you darn the holes in your socks?
The darkest hour is just before the dawn.

By far and away my favourite flavour is chocolate.
What did you do that for?

“Down in the valley there were three farms.” Roald Dhal
I’ve got a stack of forms to fill out.

A security guard stood at the door.
“Four for the gourd. Four!!!! Look at it, that’s worth ten if it’s worth a shekel.”

Do you like your eggs soft or hard?
A hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork was found in Staffordshire in 2009.

After cycling all day you need a good hearty meal.
“Only earls have a right to be haughty.” PG Wodehouse.

There’s a jar of jam in the cupboard.
A punch to the jaw can knock you out.

We used to fry pancakes in lard.
Don’t lord it over me. You’re not any better than me.

Joan of Arc was a French martyr who fought the English.
Bricks are held together by mortar.

You can park your car in the street.
Spam is a processed pork product.

The skin of the custard is my favourite part.
It’s not ideal, but any port in a storm.

You did very well. You’re a star!
I store my winter clothes under the bed.

The stark reality is that I’ll just have to eat less cake.
The fox and the stork is a famous fable by Aesop.

Do you fancy a tart and some custard?
Have you taught yourself something?

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

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