Pronunciation exercises: /ʃ/ vs /tʃ/

From Teflpedia

cheap /tʃiːp/


sheep /ʃiːp/

Together with the page possible pronunciation difficulties, this page sets out some common words teachers can use to help their students become more aware of how they can improve their pronunciation of the consonant sounds /ʃ/ and /tʃ/.

Depending on their mother tongue (L1), students may have difficulty distinguishing between these two sounds. More often than not, these supposed difficulties depend more on the interference of L1 than on the actual difficulties posed by English, and many, if not most students will greatly improve their pronunciation by simply becoming aware of certain differences - together with a minimum of practice.

Don't forget that intonation, linking and stress, both for individual words and for sentence stress, are also, of course, of vital importance in speaking better English.

The difference between /ʃ/ and /tʃ/ is that /ʃ/ is fricative and /tʃ/ is affricate. A fricative sound can last a long time as in shhhh /ʃʃʃʃʃ/ (in this case we have a flow of air). An affricate sound is short, even if it ends in a fricative. In the case of /tʃ/ we have a puff of air.


  • with initial /ʃ/: shine - ship - shoe - shop - should - show
  • in mid-position: action - passion - patient - position - station;
  • with final /ʃ/: dish - push - wash - wish

/ʃ/ sound spelled with "ch"

  • brochure - cachalot - cache - cachet - champagne - chef - Chevrolet - Chevy - Chicago - machete - machine - Michigan - moustacheBrE/mustacheAmE - parachute - quiche


  • with inital /tʃ/: change - charge - cheap - check - cheese - chew - choose
  • in mid-position: achieve - kitchen - future - picture - purchase - teacher
  • with final /tʃ/: approach - catch - each - lunch - much - pitch - research

/tʃ/ vs /ʃ/[edit]

The following are minimal pairs

  • initial: chair - share; cheap - sheep; cheat - sheet; cheese - she's; chew - shoe; chews/choose - shoes; chip - ship; chop - shop;
  • final: catch - cash/cache; match - mash; watch - wash; which/witch - wish.


  • /ʃ/: action, additional, condition, essential, information, initiative, nation, national, patient, position, potential
  • /tʃ/: Christian, combustion, digestion, exhaustion, indigestion, question, suggestion

/tʃər/ and /ʃər/[edit]

  • /tʃər/: culture, feature, future, nature, picture, researcher, structure, teacher
  • /ʃər/: extinguisher, pressure, publisher

Spanish L1[edit]

In Spanish /tʃ/ and /ʃ/ are heard as the same sound. For example, "shampoo" is champú and "champagne" is champaña. Probably all teachers working with Spanish speakers have practiced cheap, sheep, chip and ship.

In final position /tʃ/ might be even more difficult: "Catch" is pronounced *[kæʃ] and "catched" becomes either *[kæʃt] or *[kæt.ʃ.t] (three syllables, sounds similar to [kæt.ʃə.tə]).


See also[edit]

External links[edit]