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Minimal Pairs /ð/ and /z/

with and whizz

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

/ð/ is similar to the sound /θ/ in "thing" and so is also pronounced with your tongue touching or between your teeth. It can be useful to practise by sticking your tongue right out of your mouth. You can check if you are doing so with a mirror or by putting a finger in front of your lips that should get moist each time. /ð/ in "that" uses your voice, which is why it is sometimes confused with the voiced sound /z/.

/z/ is pronounced with the mouth in the same position as with /s/, but using the vocal cords. The tongue is well inside the mouth, and it can also help to spread the lips thin and wide to make the sound unlike /ð/.

Elementary

  • seethe* Cs
  • sheathe* she's
  • teethe* Ts
  • with whizz*

Pre-Intermediate

  • clothe* close (v)
  • lithe* lies
  • scythe* size
  • seethe* sees
  • then Zen*

Intermediate

  • clothing closing
  • seethe* seas
  • teethe* teas
  • teething teasing
  • tithe* ties

Upper-Intermediate

  • bathe bays
  • breathe breeze
  • loathe lows
  • soothe* sues

Advanced

  • bathe baize
  • lathe laze
  • scythe sighs
  • seethe seize
  • teethe tease

* 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.

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