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Minimal and Maximal Contrasts

What's the difference?

Minimal pairs and maximal opposition are similar in that involve comparing two or more sounds in words that differ only by the target sound.

Minimal Pairs

For example, /r/ can be contrasted with /w/ in minimal pairs of words such as the following minimal pairs where the initial phoneme is contrasted:

  • ring-wing

  • rake-wake

  • ripe-wipe

Maximal Pairs

This differs from minimal pairs as the two sounds are contrasted to identify the best sound selection method to maximise phonological learning, so examples may be:

  • ring-ding

  • ray-day

Place-Voice-Manner Chart

One of the best places to go to think about contrasts is a Place-Voice-Manner Chart.

Minimal Pairs in Voca Quest

Therapy approaches (including minimal pairs), can be paired with games in Voca Quest to help make therapy more engaging.