Minimal Pair /t/ and /θ/

as in tree and three

Below are lists of words that vary only by one having the sound /t/ and the other the sound /θ/ in the same position.

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

/t/ is made by clicking your tongue behind your top teeth, similar to /d/ but without your voice being used and with more air released. It is like the tutting sound when you disapprove of something. /θ/ is made with the tongue between the teeth and a smooth release of air without the tongue moving. You can practise /θ/ by making sure you can see your tongue in a mirror or by checking if your finger gets wet if you put in vertically in front of your lips.

Elementary

tank thank
tent tenth
tie thigh
tree three

Pre-Intermediate

fort fourth
fought fourth
hat hath
mat math
part path
team theme
toot tooth
true threw

Intermediate

debt death
heat heath
heart hearth
nought north
sheet sheath
suit sooth
teat teeth
tick thick
tin thin
tour thaw
true through
trust thrust

Upper-Intermediate

boot booth
clot cloth
dirt dearth
fate faith
kit kith
Thai thigh
till thrill
torn thorn
trash thrash
tread thread

Advanced

girt girth
mot moth
naught north
oat oath
pit pith
teem theme
tong thong
trace Thrace
trawl thrall
trill thrill
tug thug

Written for EnglishClub by Alex Case