s and th minimal pairs

32 free S and TH minimal pairs picture cards

S and TH minimal pairs

Here are some more minimal pairs activities for pronunciation practice. These words differ in one sound, that being S and TH. They are perfect for targeting and improving these sounds for students who struggle with them. By using these activities you can help teach these S and TH minimal pairs in a fun way that is often otherwise boring.

First of we have flashcards that can be used for all sorts of games. There is also a pronunciation guide, a word list to create your own activities, and some fun practice sentences. Finally, there are some links to useful related resources here at ESL Vault.

S and TH minimal pairs pronunciation guide

If you need any guidance on how to shape your mouth and tongue, and the ways to blow air to make the S and TH sounds here is some advice.

The S sound is voiceless, this simply means that you don’t use your vocal chords. You should feel no buzzing or vibration in your throat as you are only pushing air through your mouth.

To start,  put the tip of your tongue at the front of your mouth and make the sides of your tongue touch your top teeth. Then, gently blow air through your mouth and through your teeth.

The words in these minimal pairs cards use the hard or unvoiced TH sound. This sound is somewhat more challenging and can be especially difficult for non-native English speakers.

To make this sound you need to put the tip of your tongue between your top and bottom front teeth. Blow air out your move over the top of your tongue and through your teeth. Again there should be no vibration in your throat.

Word list for S and TH minimal pairs

Here is a word list that uses minimal pairs with S and TH. It includes words that are not on the flashcards and may come in handy if you want more vocabulary to practice with. It can also be useful to help you make your own pronunciation materials.

bass - bath face - faith force - fourth gas - gaff
gross - growth kiss - kith mass - math miss - myth
moss - moth mouse - mouth Norse - North pass - path
placing - plaything purse - Perth race - wraith sank - thank
saw - thaw seam - theme sick - thick sickness - thickness
sigh - thigh sin - thin sing - thing sink - think
sinker - thinker sis - scythe size - thighs sluice - sleuth
some - thumb song - thong sore - Thor sort - thought
suds - thuds sum - thumb sump - thump sunder - thunder
symbol - thimble tense - tenth truce - truth unsinkable - unthinkable
use - youth worse - worth

Fun S and TH minimal pairs practice sentences

You can get your students to read these fun silly sentences for more pronunciation practice. Once they are done, give them some minimal pairs and see if they can create their own.

Look at the size of his thighs!

The Norse went north to pass the path.

The youth use a thimble as a symbol.

I sort of thought there was a mouse in your mouth.

A sick moth on thick moss.

Useful related activities

There are plenty more related activities for S and TH pronunciation on ESL Vault. For working on the S sound you can try the S and SH minimal pairs, or the S and SH tongue twisters.

If you want more resources for practicing the TH sound, try the TH and D minimal pairs, the TH and F minimal pairs, or the funny TH sound tongue twisters.

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