Minimal Pairs /e/ and /ɪ/

as in desk and disk

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

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

Both sounds are short, with /ɪ/ being pronounced with a wider mouth, almost in a kind of smile. This makes it much closer to the long sound /i:/ than it is to the short sound /e/.


dead did

desk disk


belt built

fell fill

head hid

left lift

mess miss


bed bid

beg big

bell bill

bet bit

check chick

gem gym

hell hill

hem him

let lit

pet pit


bend binned

bent bint

cheque chick

deck dick

fen fin

get git

jest gist

leapt lipped

led lid

lest list

kecks kicks

kept kipped

meddle middle

messed mist

peg pig

set sit


bless bliss

Celt kilt

clef cliff

clench clinch

crept crypt

dell dill

den din

dent dint

fetter fitter

fez fizz

fleck flick

fretter fritter

gelding gilding

heck hick

hem hymn

hep hip

hex hicks

ken kin

ketch kitsch

Med mid

phlegm flim

quell quill