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Minimal Pairs /b/ and /p/

buy and pie

Below are lists of words that vary only by one having the sound /b/ and the other the sound /p/. You can use this to practise the sounds or as a list of words to be careful to pronounce properly.

This page uses the symbols of the Phonemic Chart. You can listen to the symbols here.

The main difference between /b/ and /p/ is that /b/ is a voiced sound, whereas /p/ is just produced by the puff of air. Also, /b/ is pronounced with less air released than /p/, and this can sometimes be a more useful distinction as it is difficult to feel the vocal cords vibrating when making the /b/ sound. 

Elementary

  • B P
  • bar Pa
  • bay* pay
  • be P
  • bear* pair
  • berry perry*
  • bet* pet
  • big pig
  • blaze* plays
  • but putt*
  • butter putter*
  • buy pie
  • by pie
  • bye pie
  • cub* cup

Pre-Intermediate

  • band panned*
  • bat pat*
  • beer pier*
  • belt pelt*
  • bill pill
  • bin pin
  • bit pit*
  • blade* played
  • blain* plane
  • bland* planned
  • bore poor
  • bored pawed*
  • bought port
  • braid* prayed
  • bull* pull
  • lib* lip
  • pub pup*
  • tab* tap

Intermediate

  • banned panned*
  • bare pare*
  • base pace
  • beak* peak
  • bear pear
  • beat peat*
  • bee pee*
  • bitch* pitch
  • blain* plain
  • blank plank*
  • blot* plot
  • board pawed*
  • bow pow*
  • braise* prays
  • bride pride
  • browed* proud
  • burr* per
  • robe rope

Upper-Intermediate

  • bah* par
  • bead peed*
  • beak* peek
  • bier* peer
  • blaster* plaster
  • bleed plead*
  • blink plink*
  • bore pour
  • braise* praise
  • breast pressed
  • breech* preach
  • brick prick*
  • cab cap
  • rib rip
  • tribe tripe*

Advanced

  • batty patty
  • beep peep
  • beet peat
  • bi pi
  • blade plaid
  • bleat pleat
  • bloom plume
  • blunder plunder
  • blush plush
  • boar paw
  • boar pour
  • boo poo
  • braise preys
  • brat prat
  • brawn prawn
  • brig prig
  • brim prim
  • burr purr
  • butt putt

* the meaning of the word is not important at this level, but it can still be used to contrast the pronunciation with the other word. For this reason, some of the words are given at two different levels, the second time being when the meaning is also useful.

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