Minimal Pair List Vowels 4 and 3, /æ/ versus /e/ 305 pairs
There are hardly any unusual spellings of the contrasted vowels in this list, with /æ/ always spelled with <a> and /e/ with <e> except for <ai> in said and the letter names L, M, N and X. The sounds themselves are both short and fairly close in tongue position, setting problems for learners and even occasionally for native speakers. It is a known problem for Dutch, Scandinavian, German, French, Italian, Greek, Turkish, Hindi and Swahili speaking learners.
The only taboo word pair is crapped/crept .
Interesting pairs include:
The mean density is 2.8%. The 305 pairs make 200 semantic contrasts, giving a loading of 66%.
access excess ad Ed ad-man ad-men added eddied affluent effluent affluents effluents Al L Alf elf Ali Ellie alimentary elementary Allan Ellen allergy elegy allergies elegies am M amber ember and end Ann N Annfield Enfield Annie any areca Erica arrant errant aster Esther at ate ax X axes X's back beck backs becks bad bed bag beg bagged begged bagging begging bags begs bally belly band bend banded bended banding bending bands bends banns bens bant bent barrow-man barrow-men Barry Bury Bass Bess bat bet bats bets batted betted batting betting batter better battered bettered battering bettering batters betters begat beget ban Ben barrel beryl barrels beryls batty Betty bland blend blather blether blathered blethered blathering blethering blathers blethers bogeyman bogeymen brad bread bran Bren cameraman cameramen canned kenned can ken canning kenning cans kens candle Kendal canny Kenny cant Kent canyon Kenyan canyons Kenyans capped kept carry Kerry catch ketch catches ketches cattle kettle caveman cavemen chessman chessmen clans cleanse clam Clem con-man con-men crapped crept crass cress dab deb dabs debs dad dead Dakar decker Dan den Danny Denny dally Delhi drags dregs expand expend expanded expended expanding expending expands expends expanse expense expanses expenses expansive expensive expansively expensively fallow fellow fanatic phonetic fanatically phonetically fanatics phonetics fancies fences fanned fend fans fens fatted fetid fatter fetter fattish fetish fab Feb fad Fed flak fleck flash flesh flashier fleshier flashiest fleshiest flashy fleshy flax flecks G-man G-men gateau ghetto gateaus ghettos gas guess gassed guessed gasses guesses gassing guessing GATT get gnat net gnats nets hack heck hacks hecks hackles heckles had head Hadjis hedges Hal hell ham hem hammed hemmed hamming hemming hams hems handyman handymen hap hep harasses heresies Harold herald he-man he-men jam gem jams gems jamb gem jambs gems Jan gen knack neck knacks necks lad lead lads leads lag leg lagging legging lags legs lambing lemming land lend landing lending lands lends lapped leapt lass less lat let latter letter lattice lettuce lattices lettuces lantern Lenten madly medley mailman mailmen malady melody maladies melodies Malcolm Melcombe mallow mellow mallows mellows mambas members man men man-of-war men-of-war man-at-arms men-at-arms manned mend mansion mention mansions mentions mantel mental marry merry massy messy massier messier massiest messiest mat met mad Med mag Meg minuteman minutemen muffin-man muffin-men muscleman musclemen Nat net overlapped overleapt pack peck packed pecked packer pecker packers peckers packing pecking packs pecks paddle pedal paddled pedalled paddles pedals paddling peddling palate pellet palates pellets palette pellet palettes pellets pan pen panned penned panning penning pans pens pap pep parish perish parishes perishes parry perry pat pet pats pets patted petted patting petting Patty petty plaid pled pressman pressmen rack wreck racked wrecked racking wrecking radish reddish rand rend rands rends rant rent ranted rented ranting renting rants rents rap rep raps reps rat ret ratted retted ratting retting ratches retches ravel revel ravelled revelled ravelling revelling ravels revels Rennes ran racks wrecks sac sec sacked sect sacks secs sad said salary celery salvage selvage salvages selvages salves selves sand send sanding sending sandwichman sandwichmen sans sends sat set satyr setter satyrs setters saxes sexes schoolman schoolmen sapped Sept shackle shekel shackles shekels shad shed shall shell slapped slept spanned spend Stan Sten superman supermen tacks techs tag teg tags tegs tally telly tallies tellies tallyman tallymen tamp temp tamped tempt tamps temps tamper temper tampered tempered tampering tempering tampers tempers tanned tend tanner tenner tanners tenners tans tens taxed text tack tech tarry Terrr than then thrash thresh thrashed threshed thrashes threshes thrashing threshing track trek tracked trekked tracking trekking tracks treks trad tread trainman trainmen vacs vex vassal vessel vassals vessels vat vet