Is there a name for words with the same consonant sounds, but different vowel sounds? For example:

  • talk, take
  • sit, site
  • taught, tote
  • bough, bow

My son has been mixing up these sets of words. I'd like to find a list of them for him to practice (we homeschool him), but I don't know what to search for.

  • 6
    Minimal Pair. We say talk and take form a minimal pair for the vowels /ɔ/ and /e/. But it's not restricted to vowels. Any pair of words that differ in only one phoneme constitute a minimal pair, like two and do, which form a minimal pair for /t/ and /d/. Oct 18, 2013 at 22:05
  • For me, bow (qua bend down) has the same pronunciation as bough (qua tree part), so be careful with that one. Also, note that record (as in record album) and record (as in make a recording) differ only in vowel sounds but are not minimal pairs, since two vowels sounds differ.
    – Merk
    Oct 19, 2013 at 8:47
  • @Merk, I’m guessing he meant bough (tree part) vs. bow (weapon). I’ve certainly never heard of anyone using a [baʊ] and arrow. Also record [noun] and record [verb] also differ in stress. Dec 9, 2013 at 0:28

1 Answer 1


In the context of literary analysis, there are a few applicable terms:

In the context of studying language, John Lawler's suggestion of minimal pair is apt: two words that differ in only a single sound that serves to distinguish them, sometimes subtly.

  • Then there's assonance and rime in English, and rime riche, rime pauvre, and rime suffisante in French. Oct 19, 2013 at 0:07

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