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English Club : Learn English : Pronunciation : Minimal Pairs : /f/ and /h/

Minimal Pairs /f/ and /h/

fat and hat

Below are lists of words that vary only by one having the sound /h/ and the other having the sound /f/. You can use these lists to practise the sounds or to tell you which words to be careful to pronounce properly.

This page uses the symbols of the Phonemic Chart. You can listen to the symbols here.
/h/ is pronounced with a puff of air from a wide open mouth so that, for example, "ha" can be said without changing your mouth position. It is similar to blowing steam onto your glasses so you can clean them and a bit like a sigh.

/f/ is pronounced with a much smaller mouth than /h/, with the teeth near or touching the bottom lip. This means that, unlike "ha", you have to open your mouth wider to say the second part of the word "far". Using the same mouth position as /f/, your voice produces the sound /v/.

Elementary
fat hat
fate* hate
fed* head
fee* he
feel he'll
fees* he's
feet heat*
fir* her
five hive*
fizz* his
four whore*

Pre-Intermediate
fair hair
fall hall
far ha
fart* heart
feel heel
few hew*
fit hit
found hound*
fun Hun*
funny honey
phone hone*

Intermediate
fail hail
fare hare*
farm harm
fear hear
fight height
fill hill
fix hicks*
foal* whole
fog hog*
force horse

Upper-Intermediate
faced haste
fad had
fake hake*
fang* hang
feed he’d
fell hell
fence hence
foam home
fop* hop
fug* hug
phase haze*

Advanced/Proficiency
fag hag
fawn horn
fey hay
fob hob
foe hoe
foes hose
fore haw
fowl howl
funky hunky
furl hurl

* 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.

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