Minimal Pair initial /r/ and /w/

as in rich and which

Below is a list of words that vary only by one starting with the sound /r/ and the other starting with the sound /w/.

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

Many language learners find a standard English /r/ so soft that it sounds like /w/ to them. The main difference is that /w/ is pronounced with the lips rounded, similar to the position of /u:/ but with the lips starting nearly or completely closed and opening while the sound is made. /r/ can be made different by pronouncing it with a flat mouth that remains open and with the top teeth near or touching the bottom lip.


rare where
right white
run one
write white


ray way
reed we'd
rich which
rock wok
run won
rye why


rave wave
ray weigh
reek weak
reel wheel
reeve we've
rent went
rest west
ride wide
roar war
room womb
rose woes


rage wage
raid weighed
rail whale
rare wear
rate weight
rear we're
reared weird
red wed
rich witch
rife wife
ring wing
rink wink
rip whip
ripe wipe
rise wise
risk whisk
rule wool
wrist whist


rack whack
rag wag
raid wade
rail wail
rake wake
ram wham
ran wan
rate wait
reap weep
reed weed
reek week
rend wend
rick wick
riff whiff
rig wig
rile while
riled wild
rim whim
rind wind (v)
rite white
roared ward
rod wad
roe woe
rot what
round wound (v)
rove wove
row (n) woe
row (n/v) wow
rued wooed
rye Y
wrought wart

Written for EnglishClub by Alex Case