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Minimal Pairs /b/ and /v/

berry and very

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

/b/ has the same mouth position as /p/, but using your voice. Try saying /p/ and then holding your neck to make sure that your voice is being used when you say /b/. There should be a sudden release of air as you say the sound, meaning that it is impossible to extend it.

/v/ has the same mouth shape as /f/, but using your voice. Put your top teeth on your bottom lip. It is possible to extend this sound for as long as you like.

If you are practising on your own, try saying both words and making sure your pronunciation of each is different, for example by looking at your mouth shape in the mirror.

bat vat*
beer veer*
berry very
best vest*
bowl vole*

ban van
bars vase*
boat vote
bow (v/n) vow*
bowels* vowels
burbs* verbs
gibbon* given
serb serve

bale* veil
bars vase
bent vent*
best vest
bet vet

bane* vain
bury very
bow (v/n) vow
lobes* loaves
rebel revel*

bale veil
bane vein
bat vat
beer veer
bent vent
bid vid
bile vile
biz viz
bolt volt
bowels vowels
bowl vole
broom vroom
burbs verbs
curb curve
dribble drivel
dub dove
fibre fiver
gibbon given
jibe jive
lobes loaves
rebel revel
verb verve

n = noun, v = verb

* 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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