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Minimal Pairs /s/ and /θ/

sing and thing

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

At least while you are making a conscious effort to do so, it is fairly easy to pronounce these two sounds differently. /θ/ is pronounced with your tongue between your teeth or even sticking out of your mouth, and you can make sure you pronounce it clearly by putting your finger vertically in front of your lips and checking that it gets wet when you make this sound. /s/ is pronounced with the tongue well inside your mouth and the mouth much more widely stretched.

Elementary
face faith*
force* fourth
kiss kith*
mouse mouth
sing thing
song thong*
tense* tenth

Pre-Intermediate
mass* math
Norse* North
saw thaw*
sick thick
sink think
sort thought
worse worth*

Intermediate
miss myth
pass path
race wraith*
seem theme
some thumb
sore thaw*
truce* truth
use(n) youth

Upper-Intermediate
gross growth*
purse Perth*
seam* theme
sigh thigh
sin thin
sought thought
sum thumb

Advanced
moss moth
piss pith
sank thank
sawn thorn
suds thuds
sump thump
symbol thimble

* 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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