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More Often-Mispronounced Words


As English is spoken in many countries worldwide, it’s moot to argue that there is only one way to pronounce a word. Take the word ‘route’ for example – here in Britain, we pronounce it ‘root’, while in America it is pronounced ‘rowt’. Even within Britain, regional accents mean that the same word can be pronounced in many ways.

Because English has evolved from a variety of different languages, you can’t consistently rely on the spelling of a word to figure out how it’s pronounced. As soon as you learn a pronunciation rule, you’re presented with all the exceptions – just take a look at the following ‘ch’ words: cheese, champagne, chaos. While they’re all spelt with the same first two letters, the start of each word is pronounced differently: ‘ch’, ‘sh’, and ‘k’. If you are a Spellzone subscriber, you can type each word into our dictionary to hear them pronounced.

A few years ago, we looked at 20 often-mispronounced words and today we’ll look at 20 more. You’ll notice that many of them have deceptive spellings!

  1. Asterisk 
    Don’t forget to pronounce the ‘s’ when saying ‘asterisk’. Make sure you’re not saying aster-ik. 
  2. Banal
    Vowel sounds in English never seem to be consistent! Pronounce this word BUH-NARL not bay-nuhl.
  3. Brewery 
    Make sure you pronounce the extra ‘r’ sound in this word. It’s BROO-UH-REE not broo-ree.
  4. Cavalry
    People often get the ‘v’ and ‘l’ sounds in the wrong order when pronouncing this word. It’s CAV-UHL-REE not cal-vuh-ree. 
  5. Choir
    This word has a hard ‘k’ sound, like in the word ‘chaos’. Pronounce this word KWY-UHR (to rhyme ‘fire’). 
  6. Colonel
    Colonel’ is another word that’s pronounced totally differently to how you might expect when looking at its spelling. Don’t pronounce the first ‘l’ in this word, say KUR-NUHL instead. 
  7. Dilate
    Make sure you don’t let an extra ‘a’ sound sneak into this word. Say DIE-LATE not dia-late. 
  8. February
    Like ‘brewery’, ‘February’ has an ‘r’ sound that often gets skipped. Say FEB-ROO-AH-REE not Feb-you-ah-ree. 
  9. Niche
    In this word the ‘ch’ is pronounced ‘sh’ like in ‘champagne’. Pronounce the word NEESH.
  10. Perspire 
    Be careful not to mix up the ‘e’ and ‘r’ sounds in this word. Say PER-SPIRE not PRESS-PIRE.
  11. Prescription
    In this word the ‘r’ sound comes before the ‘e’ sound. Say PRESK-RIP-SHUN not per-scrip-shun.
  12. Probably
    Many people miss out the middle of this word. Say PROB-AB-LEE not prob-lee. 
  13. Prostrate 
    Don’t forget the second ‘r’ in this word. Say PROSS-STRATE not pross-state.
  14. Quinoa
    Seen this word written down and have no idea how to say it? We’re here to help! Pronounce ‘quinoa’ KEEN-WAH.
  15. Respite 
    Even though its spelling might make you this word rhymes with ‘despite’, it’s actually pronounced RESP-PITE.
  16. Rural
    Make sure you say both Rs in ‘rural’. It’s ROO-RUHL not rool. 
  17. Sherbet
    Most of the words in this list are mispronounced by people mixing up the order of sounds or omitting sounds all together, but in the case of ‘sherbet’ people often add an extra sound. Pronounce this word SHER-BIT not sher-bert. 
  18. Sorbet
    Pronounce this word SORE-BAY. 
  19. Suite
    Pronounce this word SWEET not suit. 
  20. Utmost
    Notice this word is spelt with a T not a P. Say UT-MOST not up-most.  

We hope you find this article useful. As a Yorkshire-based company, we would like to reiterate once more that we don’t believe that there is only one way to pronounce a word. That said, if you’re learning English, some examiners may be strict about pronunciation. Always check whether you’re being tested on American English, British English, or another English accent and learn your pronunciations accordingly. 


08 Apr 2019
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