What is the difference between a phoneme and an allophone?

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In linguistics, a phoneme is the smallest unit of sound in speech. Reading instruction often includes teaching students to identify each phoneme in a word. For example, the word pan has three phonemes: /p/, /a/, /n/. 

An allophone defines the variations in phonemes. The word allophone is from the Greek words other and sound. Allophones describe phonemes whose sound changes depending on the letters that surround it. For example, the word kit has an aspirated sound to it (meaning that there is air being expelled rather forcefully when the "k" is pronounced). But in the word skit, the "k" sound is softened quite a bit by the "s" sound that precedes it. This is an allophone. 

There is an infinite number of allophones in the English language. This is because allophones are not only affected by the phonemes around them, but also by other factors like the communication situation, social class, and regional variations in dialect

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A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound in speech. When children...

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