The /f/ sound is spelled with <f>, <ff> or <ph> in phase. The /w/ sound is spelled <w> or <wh>. The contrast can only occur initially or medially. Notice the partial homograph wear/Wear making pairs with fair and fear.
The contrast is between a voiceless labio-dental fricative and a voiced bilabialal semivowel. It is a slight problem for some learners, especially Spanish speakers.
One mildly taboo pair is fee/wee.
The pair comes up in the collocation "fine wine". Other interesting pairs include:
The mean density value is 3.6%. The list makes 120 semantic distinctions, a loading of 51%.
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Credit: John Higgins