Minimal Pairs initial /f/ and /p/
fast and past
Below are lists of words that vary only by one having the initial sound /f/ and the other the initial 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.
Both of these sounds are produced with just air and no voice, but the way they are pronounced is very different.
/p/ is producing by building up the air and pressure behind lips that are squeezed together and then releasing it, similar to making a popping sound. This means that your mouth moves during the production of the sound and that it is impossible to extend the sound after your mouth is open and the air has been released.
/f/ is pronounced with your top teeth touching your bottom lip, and the sound can be extended for as long as you like without moving your mouth just by continuing to blow through the gap between those two parts of your mouth.
* 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.