Hi, everyone! It’s Maša. Welcome to English Snippets, episode 2.

This episode entails minimal pairs in English – two words that have the same pronunciation, except for one sound – a vowel sound. Broadly speaking, vowel sounds are /a/, /e/, /i/, /o/ and /u/, they can be short or long.

For instance, “sit” vs “seat”, short i vs long e – /ɪ/ vs /i/. We’ll explain this in greater detail in a minute.

For non-native speakers, pronouncing minimal pairs can be a challenge when similar sounds sound too similar (e.g. hill – he’ll, ill – eel, is – ease). That’s why it is helpful to be aware of the correct pronunciation to avoid the confusion in pronouncing such words and in conversation with others. I usually teach pronunciation at a C1 level, to advanced students, but it never hurts to learn something new.

In this episode, we are tackling the difference between short i /ɪ/ and long e /i/, as in “sit” vs “seat”.

As you might have already noticed, short i – /ɪ/, as in “sit” is created with the tongue rounded upward – /ɪ/. The word “sit”, s-i-t, is thus pronounced as /s/-/ɪ/-t/ à /sɪt/.

Long e – /i/, as in “seat” is said with the tongue forward and very high in the mouth – nearly touching the tooth ridge, and the jaw is low, almost closed – /i/. The word “seat”, s-e-a-t, is thus pronounced as /s/-/i/-/t/ à /sit/.

Let’s practice. Repeat after me:

bin bean

fit feet

itch each

fizz fees

hip heap

britches breeches

crick creek

din dean

Great job! If you’d like to upgrade your conversation skills, feel free to contact me at

That’s it for today, everyone. Thank you for being here and ‘till next time.

Happy speaking!