The /eɪ/ diphthong is spelled <aCe>, <ai>, <ay> or <ey> in obeyed, and occurs in the letter names A, J and K. The /əʊ/ diphthong is spelled <oCe>, <o>, <ow>, <oa> and <eau> in beau, and occurs in the letter name O.
This is a contrast between two diphthongs with different starting positions and direction of movement. It is not a problem for any learners.
Interesting pairs include:
The density figure is 6.5%. The set makes 230 semantic contrasts giving a loading of 55.1%.
A O A's O's abb� Abo abb�s Abos obeyed abode ache oak aches oaks acre ochre aid ode aids odes aid owed ailed old aim ohm aims ohms A-level O-level A-levels O-levels anus onus arrays arose Asian ocean Asians oceans ate oat attain atone attained atoned attaining atoning attainment atonement attains atones awake awoke awaken awoken bail bole bails boles bailed bold bale bole bales boles bait boat baited boated baiting boating baits boats baize beaux baize bows bane bone based boast basin bo'sn basins bo'sns baste boast basted boasted bastes boasts basting boasting bay beau bays beaux bay bow bays bows baying bowing bayed bowed bey beau beys beaux bey bow beys bows bayed bode behave behove behaved behoved behaves behoves behaving behoving belay below betaken betoken blade blowed blaze blows brake broke breaker broker breakers brokers cake coke caked coked cakes cokes caking coking cakes coax came comb cane cone caned coned canes cones caning coning cape cope capes copes cased coast cave cove caves coves clave clove clayey Chloe crake croak crakes croaks crane crone cranes crones craze crows crazier crosier dace dose dado dodo dados dodoes daisy dozey daisies dozes dale dole dales doles dame dome dames domes date dote dated doted dates dotes dating doting day do day doe days does days doze daze doze dazed dozed dazing dozing dazes dozes drain drone drained droned draining droning drains drones eight oat eights oats enable ennoble enabled ennobled enables ennobles enabling ennobling FA FO fail foal failed foaled failing foaling fails foals fain phone fake folk fakes folks fame foam famed foamed feign phone feigned phoned feigning phoning feigns phones fey foe flay floe flays floes flay flow flayed flowed flaying flowing flays flows fray fro frays froze gaily goalie gait goat gaits goats gale goal gales goals gay go gays goes glade glowed glaze glows grace gross graced grossed graces grosses gracing grossing grain groan grained groaned grains groans grape grope grapes gropes grate groat grates groats grave grove graves groves gray grow grayer grower graying growing grays grows great groat hail hole hailed holed hailing holing hails holes hail whole hails wholes hailed hold hale hole hale whole haste host hay ho haze hoes haze hose hazed hosed hazes hoses hazing hosing hazier hosier J Jo jake joke jakes jokes Jane Joan Janie Joanie K Co kail coal Kate coat lading loading laid load laid lowed lain loan lain lone lame loam lane loan lanes loans lane lone laves loaves lay lo lay low laying lowing lays lows layer lower layered lowered layering lowering layers lowers made mode maid mode maids modes mail mole mails moles mailed mould main moan mains moans make moke makes mokes male mole males moles mate moat mated moated mates moats May Mo May mow Mays mows mazes moseys mellow m�l�e mellows m�l�es nail knoll nails knolls name gnome names gnomes nape nope nation notion nations notions nay know nay no neigh know neighs knows neighing knowing neigh no neighed node overlaid overload PA PO paced post pail pole pails poles pain pone pains pones pale pole pales poles pale poll paled polled paling polling pales polls paler polar palish Polish paste post pasted posted pastes posts pasting posting patent potent patently potently pays pose phase foes praise pros praise prose pray pro prays pros prays prose PTA PTO raced roast raid road raids roads rail roll railed rolled railing rolling rails rolls rain roan rains roans raise rose raises roses rape rope raped roped rapes ropes raping roping rapier ropier rate rote rate wrote rave rove raved roved raves roves raving roving raver rover ravers rovers ray roe ray row rays rows reflate refloat reflated refloated reflates refloats reflating refloating repays repose sabre sober sabred sobered sabres sobers sabring sobering sailor solar sail sole sails soles sail soul sails souls sale sole sales soles sale soul sales souls sane sewn satiable sociable say sew saying sewing scaled scold shade showed shale shoal slay sloe slays sloes slay slow slays slows slaying slowing slayer slower sleigh sloe sleighs sloes sleigh slow sleighed slowed sleighs slows sleighing slowing spade Spode spake spoke spayed Spode staid stowed stain stone stained stoned staining stoning stains stones stainless stoneless stake stoke staked stoked stakes stokes staking stoking stale stole stales stoles state stoat states stoats stave stove staves stoves stay stow staying stowing stays stows stayed stowed strayed strode tail toll tailing tolling tails tolls tailed tolled tailed told tailgate tollgate tailgates tollgates take toque takes toques taken token tale toll tales tolls tame tome tames tomes tape tope taped toped tapes topes taping toping taper toper tapers topers taste toast tasted toasted tastes toasts tasting toasting taster toaster tasters toasters they tho' trail troll trailed trolled trailing trolling trails trolls traipse tropes underrate underwrote vague vogue vale vole vales voles wade woad wailed wold waive wove wave wove wake woke waken woken way whoa way woe ways woes weigh whoa weigh woe weighs woes wraith wroth
Credit: John Higgins