Minimal Pairs /ɪ/ and /i:/

as in sit and seat

Below is a list of words that vary only by one having the sound /ɪ/ and the other the sound /i:/.

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

As indicated by the /:/ part of its symbol, /i:/ is a longer sound than /ɪ/ and pronouncing it this way can help distinguish between the two in the pairs of words below. You will also notice, however, that /ɪ/ does not have a dot over it, making it a different mouth position from /i:/. The sound /i:/ is said with the mouth much more spread, something like a broad smile. This is why we say "cheese" rather than "chiz" (or "whizz") when we take photos.

Elementary

bin bean

chip cheap

his he’s

it eat

sit seat

Pre-Intermediate

did deed

fill feel

fit feet

grin green

hit heat

is ease

mitt meet

slip sleep

still steal

Intermediate

bit beat

bitch beach

itch each

gin gene

grid greed

hid heed

hill he’ll

ill eel

kip keep

knit neat

lick leak

lip leap

mill meal

pick peek

piss piece

pitch peach

risen reason

shit sheet

sick seek

sin scene

sin seen

still steel

tin teen

Upper-Intermediate

bid bead

bitch beech

biz bees

chick cheek

chit cheat

cist ceased

dip deep

fist feast

fizz fees

hip heap

kid keyed

pill peel

pip peep

piss peace

sill seal

sim seem

skid skied

skim scheme

till teal

tizz teas

Advanced

bib Beeb

blip bleep

britches breeches

crick creek

din dean

finned fiend

flit fleet

gip jeep

grist greased

pit peat

sim seam

sip seep

shin sheen

skit skeet

slick sleek

slit sleet

tick teak

tit teat

tizz tease