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English Club : Learn English : Pronunciation : Minimal Pairs : /s/ and /ʃ/

Minimal Pairs /s/ and /ʃ/

sea and she

Below are lists of words that vary only by one having the sound /s/ and the other the sound /ʃ/. 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.

/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.

Elementary
C she
gas gash*
sea she
seal* she’ll
seat sheet
see she
single shingle*
sock shock
sofa chauffeur*
sop* shop
sun shun*

Pre-Intermediate
boss bosh*
cost coshed*
crass* crash
diss* dish
plus plush*
puss* push
sale shale*
save shave
seen sheen*
so show
son shun*
sore sure
sort short

Intermediate
fist fished
mess mesh*
rust rushed
sank shank*
saw shore
scene sheen*
seed she’d
seek chic
seep* sheep
sell shell
sew show
sign shine
sit shit
sot* shot

Upper-Intermediate
ass ash
crust crushed
mass mash
sack shack
said shed
sail shale*
sake shake
same shame
seize she’s
sigh shy
sin shin
sip ship
sue shoe

Advanced
bass bash
doss dosh
gust gushed
moss mosh
sag shag
sass sash
sawn shorn
seer sheer
sift shift
sill shill
sine shine
sod shod
sucks shucks
toss tosh

* 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. For this reason, some of the words are given at two different levels, the second time being when the meaning is also useful.

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