Minimal Pair /kw/ and /k/

as in quick and kick

Below are lists of words that vary only by one having the sound /kw/ and the other the sound /k/ (usually spelt “qu”) in the same position.

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

The easiest way to make sure you say the /w/ in /kw/ is to try saying the word with just a /w/ sound and then add the /k/, as in “wick → quick”.

Elementary / Pre-Intermediate

quake cake
quart caught
quick kick
quite kite
squirt skirt


quart court
quill kill
quit kit
queen keen
squall school
square scare
squaw score


quad cod
quaff cough
qualm calm
quid kid
quilt kilt
quote coat
squat Scot
squid skid


quack cack
quail kale
quash cosh
quasi cozzie
quaver caver
quip kip
quirk kirk
squalor scholar
squash skosh
squint skint

Written for EnglishClub by Alex Case