Worksheets: Contrasts; Minimal Pairs; Near Minimal Pairs

This resource page contains many examples of picture-and-word work sheets intended for use in speech-language pathology intervention.

The sheets were made in Microsoft Word, using copyright-free pictures from Microsoft Clip Art and Media and converted into portable document files (pdfs) with Adobe Acrobat.

The vocabulary represents (non-rhotic) Australian English pronunciation, and although most of the words and minimal pairs will 'work' in other dialects of English you may need to discard some. For example, pairs like saw-shore, and spa-star are minimal pairs in Australian English and in other non-rhotic varieties of English, but not in rhotic dialects such as Canadian, Irish, Scottish and most US 'Englishes'.

SLPs/SLTs and students are invited to use these worksheets and other resources when working with children with speech sound disorders. You are free to save them to your computer and to customize them to suit individual clients and to fit your service delivery model. Restrictions that apply to their use are stated in the copyright notice.

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On this page you will find pictures and words for vowel minimal pairs, singleton consonant and consonant cluster minimal pairs, and near minimal pairs. Word lists without pictures are here and here.

How many exemplars?

There are many pictures to choose from here, but in selecting target words for phonological therapy it is definitely not a case of 'more is better'. Elbert, Powell and Swartzlander (1991) found that they could teach as few as 3 to 5 minimal pairs in order for over half of their 19 participants, aged 3;6 to 6;8, to show spontaneous generalisation to other words containing the target sounds.

"This descriptive study examined the number of minimal-word-pair exemplars necessary for 19 phonologically impaired children to meet a generalization criterion. For 59% of the test cases, three exemplars were sufficient for generalization to occur. Five exemplars were sufficient in 21% of the test cases, and it was necessary to teach 10 different exemplars in 14% of the test cases. In 7% of the test cases, generalization did not occur despite treatment on 10 exemplars. Although generalization usually occurred following treatment using a small number of exemplars, there was substantial variability across individual subjects. There was no apparent relationship between specific sounds and the likelihood of generalization; however, the data from some children suggested that treatment on one sound enhances learning of subsequent sounds. The theoretical and clinical implications of these findings are discussed."

Elbert, M., Powell, T. W., & Swartzlander, P.  (1991). Toward a technology of generalization: How many exemplars are sufficient? Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 34, 81-87.

Vowel Minimal Pairs

There are vowels in words here at the foot of the page

bait bat cape cap paint pant shake shack Js jazz rake rack brain bran maid mad plane plan

bay buy lay lie paint pint race rice lane line tail tile bake bike praise prize space spice paper piper players pliers Spain spine

play plough/plow bay bow K cow way wow ale owl brain brown tail towel gate gout pray prow

beer bee near knee ear e pier pea deer d tear tee

soy sow boy bow oil owl foil fowl poi pow koi cow toil towel coil cowl buoy bough oy! ow!

boy buy toy tie oil aisle quoit kite point pint voice vice

rye row sigh sow bye bow tile towel aisle owl pie pow mice mouse chai ciao why wow pry prow brine brown rind round

cat cart hat heart pack park match march jazz jars shack shark

la lie baa buy Pa pie baa bye spa spy Shah shy

soy soil boil ball loin lawn coil call oil all foil fall quoit caught toil tall pois paws joy jaw soil Saul noise gnaws

soy sea loin lean oil eel foil feel pois peas soil seal noise knees coil keel boy bee toy tee koi key

bored bird walk work warm worm wall whirl hall hurl store stir fawn fern saw sir pour purr call curl torn turn

hurt heart dirt dart burn barn Bert Bart spur spa stir star firm farm yearn yarn cur car shirk shark Kurt cart lurk lark herd hard Serb Saab fur far Pert part purple Parple purr Pa curd card bird Bard

bite bat kite cat lime lamb night gnat bike back mine man type tap vine van pilot pallet pirate parrot

cot-cut (2011)
cot cut jog jug pop pup boss bus lock luck dock duck

cot-cut (2017)
cot cut jog jug pop pup boss bus lock luck dock duck knot nut cop cup cob cub sock suck hot hut cough cuff dog Doug shot shut rob rub hog hug long lung pot putt bog bug robber rubber stomp stump golf gulf collar colour/color potty puttee Tommy tummy model muddle

deck duck bed bud s us bench bunch beg bug peg pug net nut

bell bull set soot neck nook check chook wed wood well wool fell full head hood pet put

hat hut track truck bank bunk cat cut bag bug cab cub rag rug cap cup lamp lump tag tug

ship sheep sill seal chick cheek pick peak bin bean grin green fit feet hill heel mill meal mitt meat pitch peach pill peel slip sleep wick week Tim team

tin ten pin pen big beg pig peg knit net bill bell sill cell pick peck chick cheque pit pet wrist rest billy belly

bed bad beg bag pen pan net gnat ten tan vet vat gem jam S ass said sad Ben ban men man hem ham peck pack dead Dad wreck rack guess gas wrench ranch lend land pet pat bend band send sand X axe pedal paddle merry marry celery salary Kenyan canyon lettuce lattice pellets palettes trek track

There are vowels in words here at the foot of the page

Consonant Minimal Pairs

Singleton Contrasts

Affrication (Affricate replacing Fricative); Deaffrication (Fricative replacing Affricate)

'ch' vs 'sh' SIWI
choose shoes, chop shop, chair share, cheap sheep, chew shoe, chip ship

'ch' vs /s/ SIWI
chick sick chip sip chilli silly

'sh' vs 'ch' SFWF (3) pages and 1 page of 'sh' SFWF
wash watch, crush crutch, hash hatch, mash match, leash leech, swish switch, wash watch, marsh march, mash match, wish witch, hush hutch, crush crutch, hash hatch, leash leech, bush Butch, swish switch; fish wash bush hush crash rush push wish leash brush mash quiche

'sh' vs 'ch' SFWF Six-Pix
wash watch crush crutch hash hatch

'sh' vs 'ch SFWF Six-Pix
marsh march bush Butch wish witch

'sh vs 'ch' SFWF Six-Pix
mash match leash leech swish switch

Context Sensitive Voicing (Pre-vocalic Voicing)

/p/ vs /b/ SIWI
pea bee pin bin peg beg peep beep pay bay peach beach park bark pig big peas bees path bath pug bug pie bye

/p/ vd /b/ SFWF
rope robe cup cub cap cab  rip rib lap lab nip nib pup pub

/t/ vs /d/ SIWI
ten den tea D tore door tin din tip dip town down tot dot tart dart tie die

/t/ vs /d/ SFWF
mate maid feet feed heart hard beet bead fête fade mat mad eight aid seat seed pot pod court cord coat code butt bud

/k/ vs /g/ SIWI
key ghee cap gap  cage gauge card guard coal goal curl girl coat goat cold gold

/k/ vs /g/ SFWF
wick wig lock log back bag leek league buck bug pick pig sack sag tuck tug stack stag whack wag frock frog shack shag dock dog tack tag block blog

See affricate and fricative cognates below under "V" for Voiceless vs. Voiced; and word final devoicing under "W".

Denazalisation (Stop replacing Nasal)

/m/ vs. /b/ SIWI
mat bat mic bike mug bug

/n/ vs. /d/ SIWI
nice dice nip dip knee D

Gliding of Affricates (Glide replacing Affricate)

/w/ vs. ch SIWI
wick chick win chin Wayne chain west chest whip chip walk chalk

/w/ vs. dg SIWI
weep jeep whale gaol | jail wig jig weigh J wet jet worm germ wade jade

/j/ vs. ch SIWI
ewe chew year cheer yellow cello yes chess

/j/ vs dg SIWI
yam jam yak jack yay! J

Gliding of Fricatives (Glide replacing Fricative)

/j/ vs. sh SIWI
U shoe yell shell yawl shawl ewe shoe yurt shirt yawn shorn ute shoot yak shack yabby shabby U shoe ewe shoo you choux

/j/ vs. /s/ SIWI
ute suit yell cell yap sap yum sum yak sack yay say yet set yam Sam yolk soak U Sue ewe Sioux you sue

/w/ vs. /s/, 'sh' and /f/ SIWI
one sun weed seed wheel seal whale sail wing sing wok sock wink sink well shell wok shock wake shake wall shawl wag shag whip ship wall fall weed feed walk fork wig fig one fun wait fete

Idiosyncratic Processes

/k/ vs. /h/ SIWI
cart heart corn horn calf half cat hat coal hole cook hook

/g/ vs. /h/ SIWI
gate hate go hoe goal hole

/h/ vs. /s/ SIWI
seat heat, sip hip, seal heel, soap hope, sum hum, sand hand, suit hoot, soup hoop, sauce horse

/h/ vs. 'sh' SIWI
sheep heap, sheet heat, shirt hurt, show hoe, ship hip, shot hot

Liquid/Glide Simplification

/l/ vs /j/ SIWI
lamb yam lei yay! lute ute lawn yawn less yes lard yard lot yacht let yet lap yap

/l/ vs /n/ SIWI
light night lock knock line nine lap nap low no lot knot lame name lei neigh let net lip nip low know life knife lice nice

/l/ vs /r/ SIWI
lamp ramp lace race lake rake leaf reef lock rock light right load road line rhyme lane rain lamb ram lead read look rook

/l/ vs /w/ SIWI
lead weed lock wok lick wick light white lyre wire lake wake link wink lead wed let wet late wait leap weep life wife lip whip lei way line wine leak week lay weigh leak weak

/r/ vs /w/ SIWI
rock wok rag wag rig wig rake wake ring wing rink wink run one reel wheel red wed

Palato-Alveolar Fronting

/s/ vs 'sh' SIWI
sew show seat sheet sour shower sell shell sip ship sack shack sign shine saw shore sock shock suit shoot cell shell save shave

/s/ vs 'sh' SFWF
ass ash Puss push Mass mash mess mesh lease leash

Stopping of Affricates (Stop replacing Affricate)

'dg' vs /d/ SIWI
Gs Ds jeep deep jive dive jaw door G D jam dam jog dog jug dig just dust

'dg' vs /g/ SIWI
juice goose Joe go gaol gale Jess guess jot got jet get jig gig jest guest G ghee just gust

'dg' vs 'd' SFWF
budge bud ledge lead siege seed bludge blood page paid hedge head wedge wed badge bad age aid

'ch vs /t/ SIWI
cheese Ts chop top chin tin chew two chai tie chick tick chalk talk chest test chick tick chip dip chews twos chart tart (tick tick tick tick chick chick chick chick etc.)

'ch' vs /t/ SFWF
patch pat arch art beach beet aich eight hatch hat ouch out match mat porch port hutch hut coach coat pitch pit

Stopping of Fricatives (Stop replacing Fricative)

/p/ vs /f/ SIWI
pan fan pin fin paint faint pig fig pine fine palm farm peel feel pat fat pair fair pile file pit fit pole foal port fort purr fur pork fork

/p/ vs /f/ SFWF
cup cuff cliff clip cop cough sheep sheaf whip whiff leap leaf harp half wipe wife cheep chief

/b/ vs /f/ SIWI
bus fuss bin fin bite fight big fig bun fun bowl foal ball fall bell fell bone phone bead feed box fox bat fat

/b/ vs /f/ SFWF
cub cuff tub tough rub rough pub puff grub Gruff cob cough Serb surf ebb F

/t/ vs /s/ SIWI
tub sub tip sip toe sew tick sick tail sail tore sore turf surf tea sea tack sack teat seat tower sour tell cell toot suit

/t/ vs /s/ SFWF
fête face eight ace mat Mass plate place court course butt bus right rice sort sauce yet yes

/d/ vs /s/ SIWI
dip sip D C dock sock duck suck dough sew die sigh door d sea deep seep

/d/ vs /s/ SFWF
bud bus slide slice mad Mass kid kiss lead lease loud louse

/t/ vs 'sh' SIWI
two shoe tie shy tape shape top shop tag shag tore shore tip ship tot shot toe show teat sheet tower shower tell shell take shake tack shack tin shin

/t/ vs 'sh' SFWF
fit fish hat hash heart harsh mat mash rat rash hut hush cat cash pot posh bat bash

/d/ vs 'sh' SIWI
door shore dip ship dot shot dark shark dock shock dough show dye shy dirt shirt deep sheep

/d/ vs 'sh SFWF
mad mash hard harsh sad sash blood blush

/v/ vs /b/ SIWI
V bee van ban veil bale vest best vat bat vet bet vole bowl Vs bees vow bow

/z/ vs /d/ SIWI
zip dip zoo do Zen den zee D zed dead

/d/ vs /z/ SFWF
bead bees pride prize road rose knead knees card cars bud buzz maid maze aid As

Velar Fronting (Alveolar replacing Velar); Backing (Velar replacing Alveolar)

/k/ vs /t/ SIWI
key tea cap tap cub tub call tall cool tool cape tape keys Ts coast toast kite tight coat tote cot tot coffee toffee

/k/ vs /t/ SFWF
pack pat ache eight Mac mat like light wake wait neck net bike bite beak beet lick lit ark art Coke coat

/d/ vs /g/ SIWI
go dough gown down gate date gust dust gull dull guide died ghee D gig dig

/d/ vs /g/ SFWF
big bid bag bad bug bud cog cod beg bed mug mud rig rid leg lead dig did rogue road

/n/ vs 'ng' SFWF
fan fang win wing pin Ping ton tongue ban bang thin thing run rung bin Bing tin ting gone gong

minimal triplets /n/ vs 'ng' vs 'nk'
win wing wink pin Ping pink ban bang bank thin thing think gone gong gonk tan tang tank

Voiceless vs. Voiced Affricates

'ch' vs 'dg' SIWI
cheese Gs chain Jane cheap jeep chunk junk choke joke chive jive

'ch' vs 'dg' SFWF
H age batch badge rich ridge lunch lunge

Voiceless vs. Voiced Fricatives and other Fricative Pairs (Fricative replacing Fricative)

/f/ vs. /s/ SIWI
fight site feet seat fun sun fort sort feed seed fax sax faint saint fit sit foal sole feel seal fine sign fur sir fail sail fox socks fix six fame same foot soot fold sold

/f/ vs. /s/ SIWI (small pictures)
fun sun feet seat four sore fell sell fur sir foal sole fit sit fine sign fix six fort sort feed seed fold sold fight site force sauce fox socks funny sunny foot soot fell sell four saw fir sir

/fl/ vs. /sl/ SIWI
fling sling flash slash fly sly flag slag flip slip

/f/ vs. /s/ SFWF
knife nice roof rhus buff bus F S leaf lease grief Greece life lice chafe chase goof goose gaffe gas poof puss f s

/f/ vs. /v/ SIWI
fan van foal vole fine vine

/f/ vs. /v/ SFWF
leaf leave surf serve fife five

/f/ vs. /v/ SIWW
loofahs louvres rifles rivals shuffle shovel

/s/ vs. /z/ SIWI
sip zip sink zinc sap zap

/s/ vs. /z/ SFWF
ice eyes bus buzz rice rise

/s/ vs. /z/ SIWW
fussy fuzzy lacy lazy prices prizes

th vs. /f/ SIWI
thin fin three free thread Fred

th vs. /f/ SFWF
wreath reef oaf oath deaf death

th vs. /s/ SIWI
thong song think sink thick sick thumb sum thaw saw thigh sigh

Weak Syllable Deletion

Find polysyllabic words on the Lexical Properties and Prosody page.

Word Final Devoicing

word final devoicing: stops, fricatives, affricates
coat code cup cub cop cob pat pad beet bead wet wed bat bad eight aid mat mad back bag cart card buck bug pick pig rope robe nip nib cap cab court cord mate maid feet feed heart hard seat seed surf serve bus buzz leaf leave fife five rice rise ice eyes aitch age batch badge rich ridge

/f/ vs. /v/ SFWF
leaf leave surf serve fife five

/s/ vs. /z/ SFWF
ice eyes bus buzz rice rise

'ch' vs 'dg' SFWF
H age batch badge rich ridge lunch lunge

Cluster Contrasts (cluster vs. cluster)

/fl/ vs. /sn/ Cluster Pairs
flake snake flow snow floor snore flip snip flag snag flare snare flap snap fleas sneeze

/r/ cluster vs. /l/ cluster Cluster Pairs
fry fly fruit flute frame flame frock flock free flea bring bling broom bloom braid blade pray play crown clown crock clock crowd cloud crew clue grow glow grass glass

/tr/ vs. /kr/ Cluster Pairs
trumpet crumpet track crack train crane trying crying true crew trust crust

/sl/ vs. /sn/ Cluster Pairs
slip snip slaw snore sleek sneak slow snow sloop snoop slap snap slack snack slug snug slob snob

Near Minimal Pairs

Cluster Reduction / Cluster Simplification SIWI

Near Minimal Pair (CR) /n/ vs. /sn/
nip snip nap snap no snow nail snail knees sneeze nought snort

Near Minimal Pair (CR) 'sh' vs. /sn/
show snow shack snack shore snore ship snip short snort shag snag shake snake share snare shale snail

Near Minimal Pair (CR) /s/ vs. /sn/
sew snow, sack snack, sore snore, sag snag, sail snail, sip snip, sort snort, soup snoop

Cluster Reduction / Cluster Simplification SFWF

Near Minimal Pair /k/ vs /sk/
deck desk mark mask wick whisk ark ask duck dusk tuck tusk

Near Minimal Pair /s/ vs /st/
bus bust chess chest guess guest

Near Minimal Pair /t/ vs /st/
coat coast butt bust fit fist get guest feet feast cart cast  net nest mitt mist tote toast

Final Consonant Deletion / Deletion of Coda

Near Minimal Pairs FCD 2006 Small Pictures
bee beet bee beach pie pipe Sue suit “C” seat row road buy bike buy bite chew choose bee beak cow couch sew soak ray rain ray race why wine why white why wife why wise weigh wake weigh wait lay lake lay late lay lane lay lace lay lame lie like lie light lie line lie lime tea tease tea team rye rice tray train purr purse hoe hose car calf car card chore chalk four fork shoe shoes scar scarf

Near Minimal Pairs (FCD) go-goat
go goat bow boat dough dome hoe hose throw throne row road no nose toe toad

Initial Consonant Deletion / Deletion of Onset

Near Minimal Pairs ICD 2009 Medium Pictures 18 Pages
EIGHT wait gate late Nate Kate fete date mate; APE cape shape tape drape; AGE cage stage page rage; ACHE make break wake lake shake stake take cake rake drake bake snake; AIM shame game same lame; ALL shawl fall hall ball wall call mall Paul; ARM farm palm charm calm; ARC park dark shark bark; OUCH couch pouch grouch; EYE pie guy high tie try chai fly bye spy shy sky sty; EGG beg leg peg Meg; EAT feet beet seat meat; ITCH witch pitch ditch rich; IN win pin chin bin; EACH beach speech peach reach; UP pup cup; US bus Gus fuss Russ; UGG hug rug pug jug; AT cat hat rat bat mat pat sat scat; OIL foil boil toil soil; ICE rice nice dice mice; ORC hawk cork stork pork; EEL wheel seal heel reel

Initial Consonant Deletion: /s/ and /f/ [New 2015 Thank you Stacy Fietz for the idea]
eel seal feel; eat seat feet; aim same fame; ill sill fill; at sat fat; oil soil foil; ale sale fail; old sold fold; oak soak folk; ox socks fox; it sit fit; L cell fell; oar saw four; E sea fee; axe sax fax; oh sew foe

Near Minimal Pairs ICD 2008 Activity for Initial Consonant Deletion
Listening and production activity

Words with no final consonant - CV, CCV and CCCV words

CV words for rhotic varieties of English
pea pay Pooh paw pie poi bee boy bow bow boo bye two tie tea toe toy ta D day key cow guy go sea soy sow sew zoo Z shoe show hi hey knee no

CV words for non-rhotic varieties of English
pea pay Pooh paw pie poi pear pour bee boy bow bow boo bye bear bar two tie tea toe toy ta tear tar D day deer door key cow car core guy go sea soy sow sew seesaw zoo shoe show hi hey hair hoe knee no

CCV Words
brew brow blow blue pray prey play plough true tree try tray dry draw dray cry crew crow claw clay clue glue glee glow grow grey flow flea fly fry free sly slow sleigh slaw sty stay spa spy sky ski snow shrew sway through throw three

CCCV Words
straw spray screw stray strew spree scree straw splay spry (square squire)

Words with no initial consonant - VC words

VC Words (1) - small pictures
aitch (h) eight ape age ache aim Orc all orb  arch ark arm ouch owl out eye ice eyes ill in itch axe ant at egg edge end off on odd eat each eel up is ugg oil

VC Words (2)
ace add aid ale ash ass ebb F (eff) if ink it L (ell) M (em) N (en) oak old ought own S (ess) urge urn X (ex)

VC Words (3) for rhotic varieties of English
aitch eight ape age ache aim ouch owl out eyes ice in itch axe ant at egg off eat each eel up us ugg ace add aid if old out oil

Words with the same first and last consonant - CVC words

"Palindrome Words" - same first and last consonant in CVCs
pip pup pop peep pipe Pope bib Bob tot teat toot tote Dad dead kick cock cake cook Coke cork* gag gig Sis sauce shush church* judge George* Mum / Mom mime nun nine noon naan Nan none

*‘Cork’, ‘church’ and ‘George’ are CVCC words (i.e., not CVC words) in rhotic varieties of English

Aviator oyna cox olk?l?rd? h?r gun daha cox populyarlasan maraql? pul oyunudur. Sad?liyi v? yuks?k qazanma nisb?ti il? cox qumarbaz?n ur?yini qazand?.