Consonants /t/ versus /f/, 469 pairs     [tagfag.html]

The spelling of /t/ is usually <t> or <tt>, but we also often see <ght>, <th> in Thai, and a silent-letter combination <bt> in debt. The /f/ sound is usually <f>, <ff>, or <ph> in sphere and phone. The homograph tear makes pairs with fair and fear, and I have shown the partial homograph staffs/Staffs in pairs with starts and (when capitalised) stats.

The contrast is between a plosive and a fricative, both voiceless but well separated in the mouth. It is not a problem for learners.

Pairs involving taboo words are tart/fart and tuck/fuck.

Interesting pairs include:

contest confessed
detective defective
satire sapphire
tacit facet
teacher feature
torrid forehead

The mean density value is 2.5%. The list makes 239 semantic distinctions, a loading of 51%.

ate F 
attend offend
  attended offended
  attending offending
  attends offends
attics affix 
attire afire 
battle baffle 
  battled baffled 
  battles baffles 
  battling baffling 
beat beef
  beating beefing
  beats beefs 
bit biff  
  bits biffs
but buff 
butt buff
  butting buffing 
  butts buffs 
butter buffer 
  butters buffers 
cart calf 
cat caff 
  cats caffs
cert serf
  certs serfs
chart chaff 
  charting chaffing 
  charts chaffs 
cheat chief
  cheats chiefs
contest confessed 
contuse confuse 
  contused confused 
  contuses confuses 
  contusing confusing 
  contusion confusion 
cot cough
  cots coughs
cottar coffer 
  cottars coffers 
cut cuff 
  cuts cuffs 
  cutting cuffing 
dealt delf
debt deaf 
debtor deafer 
detect defect 
  detected defected 
  detecting defecting 
  detects defects 
detection defection 
detective defective 
detector defector 
  detectors defectors 
deter defer 
  deterred deferred 
  deterring deferring 
  deters defers 
detract diffract
  detracted diffracted
  detracting diffracting
  detracts diffracts
detraction diffraction
  detractions diffractions
dot doff 
  dots doffs 
  dotting doffing 
feat feoff
  feats feoffs
feet feoff
fight fife
  fights fifes
GATT gaff
Graz graphs
greet grief
  greets griefs
hart half
heart half
heighten hyphen
  heightened hyphened
  heightening hyphening
  heightens hyphens
hoot hoof
  hoots hoofs
humped humph
hut huff
  huts huffs
inter infer
  interred inferred
  interring inferring
  inters infers
interior inferior
  interiors inferiors
internal infernal
  internally infernally
it if
jet Geoff
knight knife
  knighting knifing
  knights knifes
lied leaf
light life
lighter lifer
  lighters lifers
looter loofah
  looters loofahs
magnetize magnifies
mutt muff
  mutts muffs
natty NAAFI
night knife
  nights knifes
nit niff
  nits niffs
oat oaf
  oats oafs
otter offer
  otters offers
paltry palfrey
pelt pelf
protest professed
putt puff
  putts puffs
  putting puffing
putty puffy
quit quiff
  quits quiffs
quoit coif 
  quoits coifs 
rattle raffle
  rattled raffled
  rattles raffles
rebut rebuff
  rebuts rebuffs
  rebutting rebuffing
ret ref
retract refract
  retracted refracted
  retracting refracting
  retracts refracts
retraction refraction
  retractions refractions
right rife
rite rife
root roof
  rooting roofing
  roots roofs
rootless roofless
route roof
  routes roofs
rut rough
  ruts roughs
  rutting roughing
sate safe
  sates safes
satire sapphire
  satires sapphires
Scot scoff
  Scots scoffs
scut scuff
  scuts scuffs
scuttle scuffle
  scuttled scuffled
  scuttles scuffles
  scuttling scuffling
sheet sheaf
sheltered Shelford
shuttle shuffle
  shuttled shuffled
  shuttles shuffles
  shuttling shuffling
silt sylph
  silts sylphs
skirt scurf
skit skiff
  skits skiffs
skittle skiffle
slut slough
  sluts sloughs
start staff
  starting staffing
  starts staffs
stats Staffs
steer sphere
  steers spheres
stinks sphinx
T fee
  T's fees
ta fa 
ta far
tab fab 
table fable 
  tabled fabled 
  tables fables 
tacit facet 
tacked fact
tact fact
tactual factual
tag fag
  tagged fagged
  tagging fagging
  tags fags
tail fail
  tailed failed
  tailing failing
  tails fails
taint faint
  tainted fainted
  tainting fainting
  taints faints
taint feint
  tainted feinted
  tainting feinting
  taints feints
take fake
  takes fakes
  taking faking
tale fail
  tales fails
talk fork
  talked forked
  talking forking
  talks forks
tall fall
taller faller
tallow fallow
tame fame
  tamed famed
tan fan
  tans fans
  tanned fanned
tar fa
tar far
tare fair
  tares fairs
tare fare
  tares fares
tart fart
  tarted farted
  tarting farting
  tarts farts
taste faced 
tat fat
  tats fats
  tatted fatted
  tatting fatting
tatter fatter
tatty fatty
  tattier fattier
  tattiest fattiest
taught fort
taught fought
taut fort
taut fought
tawse fours
tea fee
  teas fees
teacher feature
  teachers features
tear fair
  tears fairs
tear fare	 
  tears fares
  tearing faring
tear fear	 
  tears fears
tearful fearful
  tearfully fearfully
  tearless fearless
teat feet
Ted Fed
tee fee
  tees fees
  teeing feeing
teed feed
tell fell
  telling felling
  tells fells
ten fen
  tens fens
tend fend
  tended fended
  tending fending
  tends fends
tender fender
  tenders fenders
tense fence
  tensed fenced
  tenses fences
  tensing fencing
tenser fencer
term firm
  termed firmed
  terming firming
  terms firms
tern fern
  terns ferns
terrace ferrous
Terry ferry
tether feather
  tethered feathered
  tethering feathering
  tethers feathers
Thai fie
Thame fame
tickle fickle
ticks fix
tiddler fiddler
  tiddlers fiddlers
tie fie
tight fight
  tights fights
tighter fighter
tilde filled
tile file
  tiled filed
  tiles files
  tiling filing
till fill
  tilling filling
  tills fills
  tilled filled
tilth filth
tin Finn
tin fin
  tins fins
tine fine
  tines fines
  tined fined
tined find
tire fire
  tired fired
  tires fires
  tiring firing
tit tiff
  tits tiffs
tizzy fizzy
toe foe
  toes foes
tog fog
  togged fogged
  togging fogging
  togs fogs
toil foil
  toiled foiled
  toiling foiling
  toils foils
told foaled
toll foal
  tolling foaling
  tolls foals
  tolled foaled
tolled fold  
tome foam
  tomes foams
ton fun
tone phone
  toned phoned
  tones phones
  toning phoning
tonic phonic
  tonics phonics
Tony phoney
tool fool
  tooled fooled
  tooling fooling
  tools fools
tootle footle
  tootled footled
  tootles footles
  tootling footling
top fop
  tops fops
toque folk
  toques folks
tor for
tor fore
tor four
  tors fours
tore for
tore fore
tore four  
torn faun
torrid forehead
tot toff
  tots toffs
tourney ferny
tow foe
  tows foes
toy Fowey
traction fraction
trade frayed
trail frail
trailer frailer
trait freight
  traits freights
traitor freighter
  traitors freighters
trance France
tray fray
  trays frays
tread Fred
tree free
  treed freed
  treeing freeing
  trees frees
trees frieze  
trench French
trend friend
  trends friends
trier friar
  triers friars
trill frill
  trilled frilled
  trills frills
trite fright
trot trough
  trots troughs
trump frump
  trumps frumps
try fry
  tried fried
  trying frying
  tries fries
tuck fuck
  tucked fucked
  tucking fucking
  tucks fucks
tucker fucker
  tuckers fuckers
tug fug
  tugs fugs
tumble fumble
  tumbled fumbled
  tumbles fumbles
  tumbling fumbling
tumbler fumbler
  tumblers fumblers
tun fun
tunnel funnel
  tunnelled funnelled
  tunnelling funnelling
  tunnels funnels
tunny funny
turn fern
  turns ferns
tut tough
  tuts toughs
Tyne fine
wait waif
  waits waifs
waiter wafer
  waiters wafers
wart wharf
  warts wharfs
wattle waffle
  wattles waffles
whit whiff
white wife
Wight wife
wilt Wilf
wit whiff
  wits whiffs
writ riff
  writs riffs
write rife  
Writtle riffle

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, January 2010.