Minimal Pairs /s/ and /ʃ/

as in sea and she

Below is a list of words that vary only by one having the sound /s/ and the other the sound /ʃ/.

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

/ʃ/ is produced with a much more rounded mouth than /s/, and is the sound we make when we want people to be quiet. If you use your voice with that mouth position, you get the middle sound in "pleasure" and "television".

/s/ is said with the lips pulled back more, with the same mouth position as /z/ but without using your voice.


C she

sea she

seat sheet

see she

sock shock


boss bosh

save shave

seal she’ll

so show

sofa chauffeur

sore sure

sort short


cost coshed

fist fished

gas gash

plus plush

puss push

rust rushed

saw shore

seed she’d

seek chic

seen sheen

sell shell

sew show

sign shine

single shingle

sit shit

son shun

sun shun


ass ash

crass crash

crust crushed

mass mash

mess mesh

sack shack

said shed

sake shake

sale shale

same shame

sank shank

scene sheen

seep sheep

seize she’s

sigh shy

sin shin

sip ship

sop shop

sue shoe


bass bash

doss dosh

gust gushed

moss mosh

sag shag

sail shale

sass sash

sawn shorn

seer sheer

sift shift

sill shill

sine shine

sod shod

sot shot

sucks shucks