The vowel /i/ is represented by the usual <ee> and <ea> spellings, as well as the letter names B, C, D, E, P and T, the musical note names mi and ti, <ei> in the proper names Beith, Neil and Rheims, <ie> in field and wield, and <iCV> in Rita and clique. The /əʊ/ diphthong is most often <oCe> or <ow>, but also appears as <eau> in beau, <oa> in boat, <oh> in the musical notes doh and soh, <oCC> in wold, <oe> in floe, and exceptionally as <oo> in brooch. There is also the <ew> spelling in shew and sew. In the case of shew, I have treated this as equivalent to show and omitted pairs which were due only to this homophonic spelling.
Three pairs arise from the plural/singular distinction in Italian loan-words: grafitti/graffito, libretti/libretto, and virtuosi/virtuoso.
The two sounds are so far apart that they could hardly ever create a problem for learners.
Interesting pairs include:
The mean density is high at 12.2%. The density of pairs among the /əʊ/ words is particularly high at 24.7%. In other words almost a quarter of all the words which contain /əʊ/ have a pair with /i/. There are 309 semantic distinctions, giving a semantic loading of 59%.
appease oppose appeased opposed appeases opposes appeasing opposing B beau B's beaux B bo B bow B's bows be beau be bo be bow being bowing bead bode beading boding beads bodes bead bowed bean bone beans bones beast boast beasts boasts beat boat beater boater beaters boaters beating boating beats boats bee beau bees beaux bee bo bee bow bees bows been bone beet boat beets boats Beith both bespeak bespoke beta boater betas boaters bleak bloke bleat bloat bleated bloated bleed blowed breach broach breached broached breaches broaches breaching broaching breach brooch breaches brooches breech broach breeches broaches breech brooch breeches brooches C sew C's sews C so C soh C sow C's sows cedar soda cede sewed cede sowed ceiling soling cheek choke cheeked choked cheeking choking cheeks chokes cheeky chokey cheese chose clean clone cleans clones cleave clove cleaves cloves cleaver clover clique cloak cliques cloaks conceal console concealed consoled concealing consoling conceals consoles creak croak creaked croaked creaking croaking creaks croaks cream chrome creed crowed creek croak creeks croaks D do D doe D's does D doh D's dohs D dough D's doze deal dole dealing doling deals doles deem dome deemed domed deems domes deep dope deeps dopes deep-freeze deep-froze E O E's O's E oh E owe E's owes eager ogre eagle ogle eagles ogles ease O's ease owes easier osier east oast eat oat eats oats eaves oaves e'en own egress ogress egresses ogresses eke oak ekes oaks Eva ova Eva over eves oaves evil oval evils ovals evilly overly fee foe fees foes feel foal feeling foaling feels foals field foaled field fold fielded folded fielder folder fielders folders fielding folding fields folds fiend phoned flea floe fleas floes flea flow fleas flows flee floe flees floes flee flow fleeing flowing flees flows fleet float fleets floats fleeting floating free fro frees froze freeze froze frieze froze G Joe gee Joe gene Joan genie Joanie ghee go Gina Jonah gleaming gloaming glebe globe glebes globes glee glow glees glows graffiti graffito grease gross greased grossed greases grosses greasing grossing greaser grocer greasers grocers greaves groves green groan greens groans green grown greet groat greets groats grieve grove grieves groves grippe grope grippes gropes he ho he hoe heal hole healed holed healing holing heals holes heal whole heals wholes healed hold heap hope heaped hoped heaping hoping heaps hopes heave hove heed hoed heel hole heeled holed heeling holing heels holes heel whole heels wholes heeled hold infield enfold interweave interwove jean Joan Jeanie Joanie keel coal keeled coaled keeling coaling keels coals keel kohl keeled cold keen cone keened coned keening coning keens cones keep cope keeping coping keeps copes key Co keyed code knead node kneads nodes knee know knees knows knee no knees nos kneel knoll kneels knolls knees nose lea low leas lows lead load leader loader leaders loaders leading loading leads loads lead lode leads lodes lead lowed leaf loaf leafed loafed leafing loafing leafs loafs lean loan leaned loaned leaning loaning leans loans lean lone leap lope leaped loped leaping loping leaps lopes leaves loaves lee low lees lows Leeds loads Leeds lodes Leigh low libretti libretto lieder loader lief loaf me mo me mow mead mode meads modes mead mowed meal mole meals moles mean moan meaning moaning means moans mean mown meat moat meats moats meat mote meats motes meed mode meeds modes meed mowed meek moke meet moat meets moats meet mote meets motes mete moat meted moated metes moats mete mote metes motes meter motor meters motors metre motor metres motors mi mo mi mow mien moan miens moans mien mown neap nope neat note neatest noticed need node needs nodes Neil knoll oversee oversew overseeing oversewing overseen oversewn overseas oversews P's pose PE PO peach poach peached poached peaches poaches peaching poaching peak poke peaked poked peaking poking peaks pokes peaky poky peakier pokier peakiest pokiest peal pole peals poles peal poll pealed polled pealing polling peals polls peas pose pease pose peek poke peeked poked peeking poking peeks pokes peel pole peels poles peel poll peeled polled peeling polling peels polls peeler polar peep Pope peeps Popes pees pose peke poke pekes pokes Peking poking pieced post pique poke piqued poked piques pokes piquing poking Pisa poser pre- pro- preen prone quay Co quick-freeze quick-froze re roe re row reach roach reaches roaches read road reads roads read rode read rowed ream roam reams roams ream Rome reap rope reaped roped reaping roping reaps ropes reed road reeds roads reed rode reed rowed reel role reels roles reel roll reeled rolled reeling rolling reels rolls reeve rove reeves roves Rheims roams Rita rota Rita rotor scene sewn scene sown sea sew seas sews sea so sea soh sea sow seas sows seal Seoul seal sole sealed soled sealing soling seals soles seal soul seals souls sealed sold sealer solar see sew seeing sewing seen sewn sees sews see so see soh see sow seeing sowing seen sown sees sows seed sewed seed sowed seek soak seeker soaker seekers soakers seeking soaking seeks soaks seep soap seeped soaped seeping soaping seeps soaps seize sews seize sows sepia soapier she show sheen shown shield shoaled Sikh soak Sikhs soaks sleep slope sleeping sloping sleeps slopes sneeze snows speak spoke speaks spokes speed Spode steal stole steals stoles steed stowed steel stole steels stoles Steve stove streak stroke streaked stroked streaking stroking streaks strokes T toe T's toes T tow T's tows tea toe teas toes tea tow teas tows teak toque teal toll team tome teams tomes tease toes tease tows teat tote teats totes tee toe teed toed teeing toeing tees toes tee tow teed towed teeing towing tees tows teed toad teem tome teems tomes teen tone teens tones teeny Tony tempi tempo thee though these those three throe threes throes three throw threes throws ti toe ti tow undersealed undersold unsealed unsold veal vole virtuosi virtuoso we whoa we woe we'd woad we've wove weak woke weaken woken weald wold wealds wolds weave wove wee whoa wee woe weed woad week woke wees woes wheeled wold wheeze woes wield wold wields wolds wreath wroth
Credit: John Higgins