What are S and Z minimal pairs?
Minimal pairs are simply words that differ by one sound or phonological element. They also have different meanings. The sound can be dissimilar in the initial or first sound such as – sip and zip. It can be unlike in the middle sound such as – lacy and lazy. It can also be different in the final sound at the end of the word such as – purse and purrs.
The minimal pairs S and Z are different because the S is unvoiced while the Z is voiced. The Z sound is voiced by using the throat and vibrating your vocal cords when pronouncing it. For the unvoiced S, more air is released from your mouth and there is no vibration at all from the throat.
S and Z minimal pairs pictures
On this page are 24 picture cards of minimal pairs you can use for pronunciation activities in your English Classes. The words have been added below so that you can cut them off if you don’t need them. You can use them as flashcards or for matching activities and memory games.
The words on each sheet are-
Sheet 1 (above) – ice and eyes, rice and rise, sip and zip
Sheet 2 – mace and maze, bus and buzz, price and prize
Sheet 3 – piece and peas, case and kays, sauce and saws
Sheet 4 – hiss and his, race and rays, spice and spies
S and Z minimal pairs sentences
Here are some sentences for your students to practice pronunciation of the minimal pairs S and Z –
She put some ice on her eyes.
They heard a buzz in the bus.
He grows rice over the rise.
A piece of pie with peas.
It costs 10 pence for pens.
A theatre is a place to see plays.
His snake likes to hiss.
The spies stole some spice.
It gets louder the worse it whirrs.
Seeds were sown in the farming zone.
The boy said zed.
Her sink is made of zinc.
Hard work is the price for first prize.
Minimal pairs listening activity
Read these sentences aloud to your students and get them to write the word they hear. You can choose which words to use when you read them. Make sure you give them the minimal pairs to listen for on the board first and that they know the words.
He didn’t like the price/prize.
She went to buy some sauce/saws.
It sounds like a bus/buzz.
They really want a race/raise.
Those sheep have lots of fleece/fleas.
How many pence/pens have you got?
The student’s marks were ace/A’s.
I want to find some spice/spies.
List of S and Z minimal pairs
Here is a list of minimal pairs using the S and Z sounds to use in other activities you create!
|ice - eyes||rice - rise||sip - zip||mace - maze|
|price - prize||peace - peas||spice - spies||case - kays|
|bus - buzz||purse - purrs||race - rays||sauce - saws|
|pence - pens||C -Z||said - zed||Ace - A's|
|fussy - fuzzy||hiss - his||lice - lies||lace - laze|
|race - raise||place - plays||fleece - fleas||moose - moos|
|muscle - muzzle||once - ones||pace - pays||face - phase|
|false - falls||trace - trays||worse - whirrs||loose - lose|
|sewn - zone||sink - zinc||scarce - scares||dice - dies|
|Basis - basses||hearse - hers||force - fours||gross - grows|