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Minimal Pairs /f/ and /θ/

free and three

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

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

Both sounds are unvoiced, meaning that you can make the sound just by blowing out air without needing to use your voice. /f/ has the same mouth position as the voiced sound /v/, with the top teeth on the bottom lip and the tongue inside the mouth. /θ/ has the mouth more open with the tongue between the teeth or even poking out of the mouth. You can practise /θ/ by making sure your tongue touches a finger placed on your lips when you say the words below.

Elementary

  • free three

Pre-Intermediate

  • deaf death
  • fought thought
  • four thaw

Intermediate

  • fin thin
  • first thirst
  • for thaw
  • fresh thresh
  • freeze threes
  • fro throw
  • froze throws

Upper-Intermediate

  • fief thief
  • firm Therm
  • fort thought
  • frill thrill
  • furred third

Advanced

  • duff doth
  • fang thang
  • fawn thorn
  • fore thaw
  • fret threat
  • frieze threes
  • fug thug
  • oaf oath
  • trough troth

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