Words People Often Say Wrong

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A few years ago, we looked at 20 words that are often mispronounced.

One of the reasons English is such a difficult language to learn is because you can neither rely on the pronunciation of a word to work out its spelling, nor can you rely on the spelling to work out the pronunciation. This is because English has evolved from a variety of different languages. 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’.

This week we are going to look at 20 more hard-to-pronounce words, but it’s important to emphasise that pronunciations vary from region to region and from country to country. Take the word ‘route’ for example – here in Britain, we pronounce it ‘root’, but in America it is pronounced ‘rowt’. As a Yorkshire-based company, we certainly don’t believe that there is only one correct way to pronounce each word!

Here are 20 words that can be difficult to say:

  1. Asterisk
    It’s easy to forget the ‘s’ in this word. Make sure you say aster-risk not aster-rik.
  2. Cache
    Pronounce this word cash not catch.
  3. Cavalry
    People often mix up where the ‘l’ falls in this word. Say caval-ree not cal-very.
  4. Chaos
    This word is pronounced with a hard ‘c’ sound: kay-oss not chay-oss or shay-oss.
  5. Chest of Drawers
    Many people blur the words ‘chest’ and ‘of’ when talking about this piece of furniture. Make sure to separate them and say chest of drawers and not chester drawers.
  6. February
    This word is traditionally pronounced Feb-ru-air-ee, but the pronunciation Feb-you-air-ee is also correct.
  7. Heinous
    This word is pronounced hay-nus.
  8. Miniature
    In British English, the ‘a’ in ‘miniature’ isn’t pronounced, but in American English it is. Pronounce this word either mini-chur or minia-chur.
  9. Moot
    This word is pronounced like it is spelt. Say moot not mute.
  10. Niche
    Pronounce this word neesh not nitch.
  11. Nuclear
    Many people incorrectly pronounce this word nuke-yuh-luhr. Make sure you say new-klee-uhr.
  12. Picture
    Don’t forget to pronounce the ‘c’ in this word. Say pic-chur not pitcher.
  13. Prescription
    It’s easy to mix up the ‘r’ and the ‘e’ when saying this word. Say pruh-scrip-shun not per-scrip-shun.
  14. Probably
    People often miss out the second ‘b’ in ‘probably’. This word is pronounced prob-ab-lee not prob-lee.
  15. Prostate
    A second ‘r’ gets added to this word when people mix it up with the similar word ‘prostrate’. Say pros-tate not pros-trate.
  16. Quinoa
    This word is pronounced keen-wah.
  17. Sherbet
    Don’t let a second ‘r’ sneak its way into this word. Say sher-but not sher-burt.
  18. Suite
    The ‘ui’ in this word is very confusing! ‘Suite’ is pronounced sweet not soo-t.
  19. Utmost
    Pay particular attention to the first two letters in this word. Say ut-most not up-most.
  20. Wednesday
    Despite what its spelling might suggest, this word is pronounced with two syllables. Say Whens-day not Wenners-day or Wed-ners-day.

Did you know that our dictionary includes phonetic recordings of each word? Type in the word you’re interested in here to hear how it is pronounced.

Have a great week!

21 Aug 2017
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