Minimal Pair List Vowels 1 and 12, /i/ and /ə/: 66 pairs

   Minimal pair: Vowels 1 and 12, /i/ and /ə/: 66 pairs

The list is fairly short since the vowel /ə/, schwa, occurs only in unstressed contexts whereas vowel /i/ is most commonly found in stressed or relatively prominent environments. Many of the pairs in this list arise from contrasting the learned -ae plurals with the singular of Latin nouns ending in -a . Several others contrast the -ee passive-forming suffix with the -er agentive suffix. A few contrast full words with weak-forms of function words, such as keys/cos , thee / the and tea / to .

Pairs such as edicts / addicts (the verb), emus / amuse , keynotes / connotes , seaborne / suborn and unique / eunuch differ in stress as well as the vowel, so they are not strictly minimal pairs. It could also be argued that the -ee and -er pairs, such as payee / payer , differ in secondary stress. With the lei / layer pair, the layer word is the two-syllable word meaning one who lays rather than its one-syllable homograph meaning a stratum.

Speakers of syllable-timed languages may have some problems with this set.

The mean density value is small at 0.4%. The 66 pairs make 54 semantic contrasts, giving a very high semantic load of 82%.

AD Ada
algae Alger
alumnae alumna 
amoebae amoeba 
amphorae amphora 
antennae antenna 
Dives divers 
E a
e'en an
e'en 'un 
edict addict
  edicts addicts
emus amuse
formulae formula 
grandee grander
Hellene Helen 
Hindi hinder
ie ayah
ie ire
keynote connote
  keynotes connotes
keys cos 
lacunae lacuna 
larvae larva 
larvae lava
lei layer
  leis layers
lessee lesser
marquee marker
  marquees markers
MB ember
nebulae nebula 
nebulae nebular
novae nova 
NT enter
payee payer
  payees payers
prevision provision
  previsions provisions
pupae pupa 
quays cos
retinae retina 
seaborne suborn
seaport support
  seaports supports
seaweed seaward 
  seaweeds seawards 
settee setter
  settees setters
sortie sorter
  sorties sorters
T to
tea to
tee to
tempi temper
thee the 
ti to
tibiae tibia 
trainee trainer
  trainees trainers
tracheae trachea 
ulnae ulna 
unique eunuch
vendee vendor
  vendees vendors
vertebrae vertebra