Vowel Sound Contrast: /ə/ vs. /a/

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Listen to the difference between the vowel sounds (/ə/ vs. /a/) in the following pairs of words.

  • cuff cuff | cough cough
  • cup cup | cop cop
  • duck duck | dock dock
  • dug dug | dog dog
  • dull dull | doll doll
  • gut gut | got got
  • hug hug | hog hog
  • jug jug | jog jog
  • luck luck | lock lock
  • lust lust | lost lost
  • nut nut | not not
  • tuck tuck | talk talk

Depending on your native language distinguishing the difference can be very easy or very difficult.

Test your ability to hear the difference between /ə/ and /a/.

Instructions: listen to the word and then pick the best match.


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