How do I know the difference?
What is the pronunciation difference between "stadt" and "staat"?
the pronunciation difference is very minor, if there is any at all. But luckily, these two words have different genders: Stadt is feminine and Staat is masculine. Since gender changes almost everything in German (articles, adjective endings, ..etc) this should be able to solve any confusion of the two words. I doubt many people would be saying either of those words without any articles or anything that would be affected by gender.
Hope this helps and happy learning!
(Here's a table that shows how adjectives and articles change in all the different cases)
I agree with you on the gender argumentation but disagree strongly on the pronunciation. "Stadt" is pronounced like "statt" ("instead"), rhyming with the English "cut". "Staat" instead rhymes almost with "card".
BTW: a city state like Berlin and Hamburg is referred to as a "Stadtstaat"