k and t minimal pairs initial sound 1

K and T minimal pairs

K and T minimal pairs

A pronunciation resource for the K and T minimal pairs. If you are not familiar with them, minimal pairs are words that sound the same except for one part of the word. Their spelling is irrelevant as the k sound can be spelt with a K, a C, or CH in English.

Here we are focusing on words that differ only in the K and T sounds. The minimal pairs on this page either use the initial sound (the first sound of a word) or the final sound ( the last sound of a word).

This page has 64 free picture cards you can download and use in learning activities. Amongst other activities, you can use the cards for flashcard games, matching/pelmanism, or memory games. Apart from 2 minimal pairs, the cards all use 1 syllable words.

How to make the k sound

The k sound is unvoiced, this means that you do not use your vocal cords when you make it – there should be no vibration in your throat at all. In English, there is a quiet k sound and a louder k sound. This depends on the word.

First of all the loud k sound. Start by touching the back of the roof of your mouth with the back of your tongue. Next, push air through your mouth while quickly moving your tongue away from the roof of your mouth and releasing air.

To make the quiet k sound, you push less air through your mouth and don’t push your tongue forward your tongue suddenly.

How to make the t sound

The t sound is also unvoiced and no vocal cords are used. To make the t sound, place the tip of your tongue behind your top teeth. As you push air through your mouth suddenly release your tongue in a downwards motion to let the air out.

Again, a quieter sound can be made by doing this more slowly.

Note –  This is the regular t sound that is used in the minimal pairs on this page. There are more t sounds such as the Alveolar flap, the Glottal Stop, the Aspirated T and the Unaspirated T.

K and T minimal pairs list (initial sound)

call - tall can - tan cape - tape cart - tart
caught - taught cask - task coast - toast cold - told
cook - took cop - top core - tore corn - torn
cap - tap crack - track crane - train crash - trash
cry - try cube - tube key - tea/tee kick - tick
kale - tail/tale cake - take cub - tub kite - tight
cool - tool car - tar cable - table coffee - toffee

K and T minimal pairs list (final sound)

ache - eight/ate back - bat bake - bait beak - beat
bike - bite coke - coat dock - dot hike - height
knock - knot/not like - light make - mate peck - pet
neck - net pack - pat pick - pitt puck - putt
shock - shot sick - sit talk - taught week - wheat
K and T minimal pairs practice sentences

Here are some amusing practice sentences –

She spilt coke on her coat.

There is a bat on your back.

His neck is in the net.

Sit if you are sick.

The pet parrot pecked a pickle.

Take the cake to the cable table.

He hiked the heights looking for wheat all week.

There’s a cub in the tub on the coast eating toast.

For a fun activity, get your students to make their own minimal pairs sentences and tongue twisters!

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