Vowels 3 and 13, /e/ versus //    281 pairs      [edgeage.html]

The /e/ vowel is spelled <e>, <ea> in bread and occcurs in the letter names L, M, S and X. The diphthong // is usually spelled with <aCe>, <ai>, <ay>, sometimes <ei> as in eight or <ey> in obeyed, and it occurs in the letter name H. The word ate can be pronounced /et/ or /eɪt/. Notice that the word leading pronounced /ledɪŋ/ is a member of a homograph. With this pronunciation it means space between print characters or lead on a roof. Similarly read pronounced /red/ is the past tense homograph.

Although this is a contrast bewteen a short vowel and a diphthong, it is a known problem for many foreign learners including speakers of French, German, Italian, Arabic, Swahili, and Indian languages.

Interesting pairs include:

abed obeyed
cellar sailor
gems James
nettle natal
stellar staler

The mean density is 2.7%. The pairs make 169 semantic contrasts, giving a loading of 60%.

abed obeyed
abet abate 
  abets abates 
  abetted abated 
  abetting abating 
ate eight
attend attained 
beck bake 
  becks bakes 
beckon bacon 
bed bayed 
bell bail
  belled bailed 
  belling bailing 
  bells bails
belle bail  
  belles bails 
belly bailey 
  bellies baileys 
Ben bane
Bess base
best based 
best baste
  bested basted 
  besting basting 
  bests bastes 
bet bait 
  bets baits 
  betted baited 
  betting baiting 
bled blade 
bread braid 
Bren brain
  Brens brains
breast braced
Brest braced
cell sail 
  cells sails
cell sale  
  cells sales
cellar sailor
  cellars sailors
cent saint
  cents saints
chess chase 
chest chased 
chest chaste
Clem claim
Clement claimant
contend contained 
Cres craze
Delhi daily
dell dale 
  dells dales 
den Dane 
  dens Danes 
Des days
Des daze
ebb Abe 
Ed aid
eddied aided 
edge age
  edged aged 
  edges ages 
  edging ageing 
Epping aping
etch H
  etches H's 
Fed fade
fell fail 
  felled failed 
  felling failing 
  fells fails 
fem fame 
fen fain 
fenm feign
  fens feigns 
fend feigned 
fetid fated 
fettle fatal 
fez phase
  fezzes phases
fleck flake 
  flecked flaked 
  flecking flaking 
  flecks flakes 
fled flayed 
Fred frayed
fret freight 
  frets freights 
  fretted freighted 
  fretting freighting 
gel gaol 
  gelled gaoled 
  gelling gaoling 
  gels gaols 
gems James 
gen Jane 
get gait 
  gets gaits 
get gate
  getting gating 
  gets gates
heaven haven 
  heavens havens 
heck hake 
held hailed 
hell hail 
  hells hails 
impel impale 
  impelled impaled 
  impelling impaling 
  impels impales 
Jenny Janie  
ken vane
  kenned caned 
  kenning caning 
  kens canes 
Kettering catering
L ail
leaden laden 
leading lading 
lemming laming 
lemon layman 
Len lain
lens lanes 
Les lays
less lace 
lest laced 
let late 
letter later 
L's ails
M aim
Med made
men Maine 	
men main
men mane
Met mate
Metz mates
misled mislaid 
M's aims
Ned neighed
Nell nail
nettle natal 
Neville naval
pen pain 
  penned pained 
  penning paining 
  pens pains 
pepper paper 
  peppered papered 
  peppering papering 
  peppers papers 
pest paced 
pest paste
  pests pastes 
pet pate 
  pets pates 
phlegm flame 
pled played 
Pres praise
quell quail 
  quelled quailed 
  quelling quailing 
  quells quails    
res raise
read raid 
Reading raiding
red raid
  reds raids 
redder raider 
Reg rage
rend rained 
Rennes rain
rep rape 
  reps rapes 
rest raced 
ret rate 
rev rave
  revs raves 
  revved raved 
  revving raving 
Rex rakes
S ace
scent saint
  scented sainted  
  scents saints
sec sake 
  secs sakes 
sedge sage 
sedges sages 
sell sail
  selling sailing 
  sells sails
sell sale
  sells sailes  
send seined 
  sends seines 
sent saint
set sate 
  sets sates 
  setting sating 
sever saver 
  severs savers 	 
sever savour
  severed savoured 
  severing savouring 
  severs savours
sex sakes
shed shade 
  shedding shading 
  sheds shades 
shell shale 
sled slayed
sled sleighed
spec spake 
special spatial 
  specially spatially 
sped spade 
spread sprayed 
S's aces
stead staid 
stellar staler 
Sten stain
stet state 
Steyning staining
tech take
  techs takes 
tel tail 
tell tail
  telling tailing 
  tells tails 
teller tailor 
  tellers tailors 
tent taint 
test taste 
  tested tasted 
  testing tasting 
  tests tastes 
testy tasty 
  testier tastier 
  testiest tastiest 
  testily tastily 
tread trade 
  treading trading 
  treads trades 
trend trained 
tress trace 
  tresses traces 
vend veined 
wed wade 
  wedded waded 
  wedding wading 
  weds wades
wedge wage 
  wedged waged 
  wedges wages 
  wedging waging 
weld wailed 
well wail 
  welling wailing 
  welled wailed
  wells wails
wells Wales 
wen Wayne 
wend waned 
wens wains 
west waist 
wet wait 
  wets waits 
  wetted waited 
  wetting waiting 
wetter waiter 
wreck rake 
  wrecked raked 
  wrecking raking 
  wrecks rakes
wren rain
  wrens rains
X aches
yet Yate 
Geographical: Outside English-speaking countries, most visitors are from Hong Kong, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea, Norway, Colombia, Chine, Indonesia and Argentina. Average 21 visitors per month.

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, January 2011