Minimal Pair List Vowels 4 and 13, /æ/ versus / eɪ / 284 pairs

   Minimal pair: Vowels 4 and 13, /æ/ versus / eɪ / 284 pairs

The /æ/ vowel is spelled <a> followed by two consonants or by one consonant in a monosyllable. The / eɪ / diphthong is most often spelled <aCV> as in ape or halo , but we also see in this list <ai> in paint and <ei> in feign . It also occurs in the letter names A and J . In several words of French origin such as crêpe , crèche and fête , spellings with <ê> or <è> are given the / eɪ / pronunciation, but many speakers will use /e/ instead. Notice the occurrence of the homographs bass (fish and low voice) and pasty (Cornish pie, pale-looking). Confusable but doubtfully minimal is randier/reindeer , since randier has three syllables and reindeer only two. The two different spellings of renascence/renaissance form a contrasting pair but have the same meaning.

This contrast is between a short vowel and a diphthong, so it should not cause problems. Indeed many of the problems that do arise are probably due to unfamiliarity with a particular spelling rather than difficulty with the sounds. For languages which do not have an / eɪ / diphthong and replace it with a monophthong, this may cause a problem, as it is known to do for both French and German speakers.

One potential embarrassing pair is brassière/brazier . This was a confusion that was famously exploited in the film Room at the Top , where the hero exposes his lack of education by mispronouncing brazier and is laughed at.

Interesting pairs include:

madden maiden
frazzle phrasal
galley gaily
latticed latest

The density value is 2.83%. The pairs make 140 semantic contrasts, giving a loading of 55.6%.

act ached 
ad aid	 
  ads aids
add aid
  added aided
  adding aiding
adds AIDS 
Al ail
am aim 
ant ain't 
apse apes 
apt aped 
as A's 
ashen Asian 
at eight
automat automate
  automats automates 
ax aches 
babble babel
  babbles babels
Babs babes
back bake
  backed baked
  backer baker
  backs bakes
backers bakers
  backing baking
bally Bailey 
ban bane
  bans banes
bass base
bass bass
bat bait 
  batted baited 
  batting baiting 
  bats baits
bract braked
brad braid
  brads braids
bran brain 
brand brained 
brassière brazier
  brassières braziers		
cadge cage
  cadged caged
  cadges cages
  cadging caging
cam came
can cane
  canned caned 
  canning caning 
  cans canes 
cap cape
  caps capes 
cat Kate 
catty Katie 
clam claim 
  clammed claimed 
  clamming claiming 
  clams claims 
crack crake
  cracks crakes
crap crêpe   
  craps crêpes   
crash crèche
  crashes crèches 
dally daily 
  dallies dailies 
dam dame
  dams dames
damn dame  
  damns dames 
Dan Dane
fact faked
fad fade
  fads fades 
fan fain 
fan feign
  fanned feigned
  fanning feigning
  fans feigns
fat fate
  fats fates 
  fatted fated 
fat fête
  fatting fêting 	  
  fatted fêted
fatten phaeton
  fattens phaetons
flak flake
flax flakes 
frazzle phrasal
gabble gable
  gabbled gabled
  gabbles gables
gal Gael 
  gals Gaels 
gal gale
  gals gales  
galley gaily 
Gallic Gaelic 
gammy gamy
gap gape
  gaps gapes 
GATT gait
glad glade
grand grained 
hack hake
Hal hail
hallow halo
  hallows haloes
has haze
hast haste
hat hate
  hats hates 
Jack Jake
jacks jakes
jams James
jambs James 
Jan Jane
jazz J's 
knacker nacre
knap nape
  knaps napes
lack lake
  lacks lakes
lad lade
laddie lady
  laddies ladies
lam lame 
  lams lames	
  lammed lamed
  lamming laming
lamb lame
  lambed lamed
  lambing laming
  lambs lames
lassie lacy 
lat late
latter later 
latticed latest 
lav lave
  lavs laves 
lazar laser 
  lazars lasers 
ma'am maim
mac make
mad made
madden maiden
  maddens maidens
Mademoiselle Mesdemoiselles
mammy Mamie 
man main
  mans mains 
manly mainly 
mass mace
  masses maces
mat mate
  matted mated 
  matting mating 
  mats mates
Max makes
navvy navy
  navvies navies 
overtax overtakes 
pad paid
pal pale 
  palled paled 
  palling paling 
  pals pales
pal pail
pals pails 
pallor paler 
pan pain 
  panned pained 
  panning paining 
  pans pains
pant paint 
  panted painted 
  panting painting 
  pants paints 
pasty pasty
pat pate
  pats pates 
plaid played
plait plate
  plaited plated
  plaiting plating
  plaits plates
plan plain 
  planned planed 
  planner plainer 
  planning plaining 
  plans plains 
quack quake
  quacked quaked
  quacking quaking
  quacks quakes
rack rake
  racked raked
  racking raking
  racks rakes
ran rain 
ran reign
ran rein
rand rained 
rand reigned   
rand reined
randier reindeer
rap rape
  rapped raped 
  rapping raping 
  raps rapes 
rat rate
  rats rates 
  ratted rated 
  ratting rating 
renascence renaissance 
sac sake   
sack sake
  sacks sakes
saddest sadist
Sam same
sand seined
sans seines
sat sate
scan skein
  scans skeins
scat skate
scatter skater
  scatters skaters
scrap scrape
  scrapped scraped 
  scrapping scraping 
  scraps scrapes 
shack shake
  shacking shaking
  shacks shakes
shad shade
shall shale 
sham shame
  shammed shamed 
  shamming shaming 
  shams shames 
slack slake
  slacked slaked
  slacking slaking
  slacks slakes
slat slate
  slats slates 
  slatted slated 
snack snake
  snacks snakes
span Spain 
spat spate
  spats spates 
stack stake
  stacked staked
  stacking staking
  stacks stakes
Stan stain
stand stained 
strand strained 
tack take
  tacking taking
  tacks takes
tap tape
  tapped taped 
  tapping taping 
  taps tapes 
trad trade
trans trains 
traps traipse 
valance valence
  valances valences
van vain 
  vans vanes 
water-rat water-rate
  water-rats water-rates
wax wakes 
whack wake 
  whacked waked 
  whacking waking 
  whacks wakes