Minimal Pairs /æ/ and /e/

as in bad and bed

Below is a list of words that vary only by one having the vowel sound /æ/ and the other the vowel sound /e/.

You can use this list to practise the sounds, or as a list of words to be careful in pronouncing.

If these two sounds are the same in your language, it may be difficult for you to pronounce them differently because:
  • native speakers pronounce /æ/ in several different ways
  • /æ/ is quite similar to /e/
The clearest difference is that /e/ is spoken with a wider, more stretched mouth. You can make this clear by seeing how your mouth gets wider and wider as you go from /æ/ to /e/ to /i:/.


bad bed

man men


and end

axe X

bag beg

had head

ham hem

jam gem

pan pen

pat pet

sad said

sat set


band bend

bat bet

dad dead

flash flesh

gas guess

gnat net

land lend

shall shell

spanned spend


axe ex

fad fed

gassed guest

manned mend

marry merry

mat met

sacks sex

sax sex

tack tech

track trek


bland blend

cattle kettle

dab deb

flax flecks

frat fret

rabble rebel

tamp temp

tamper temper

trad tread

vat vet