Top 10 mispronounced words

When learning a language, it’s not enough to be able to read and write new words. We also have to be able to pronounce them correctly. Long words can be particularly difficult to say correctly, especially if they are similar – but slightly different – to words in your own language. He’s a list of words that are commonly mispronounced in English and some tips for saying them correctly.

1. purchase

Learners often pronounce this word as “pur-CHASE”, but actually the strong sound is at the beginning: “PUR-chus”. The “a” is a very short, weak sound. There’s more information about this sound here.

2. executive

Lots of learners pronounce this word “ex-e-CUT-ive”, but the strong sound should be on the second syllable: “ex-EC-u-tive”.

3. analysis

The verb “analyse” has a long final syllable and the “y” is pronounced like “eye”, but in the noun, that sound is shorter and the strong sound is earlier in the word: “a-NA-li-sis” (not “a-na-LYSE-is”).

4. comfortable

This is a difficult word to pronounce because we don’t really say what we see. Many learners say “com-for-TAB-el”, but we only pronounce this word with three syllables: “COMFT-a-bel”. The strong sound is also on the first syllable.

5. interesting

This word can cause similar problems. It should be pronounced as three syllables with the strong sound at the beginning: “IN-trest-ing” (not “in-te-REST-ing”.)

6. organisation

This is a very universal word in lots of languages, but the “a” sound is often mispronounced to sound like “can” when it should be a very short “uh” sound. You can read more about this sound here. The word is pronounced like this: “or-gn-eye-ZAY-shun”.

7. half

It looks like simple, but this word can cause difficulties, especially when telling the time. The secret is that the “l” is not pronounced, so we actually say “harf”.

8. display

Whilst this word may be used in other languages to describe the screen of an electronic item, it is sometimes stressed differently in those languages. In English, the strong sound should be at the end, i.e. “disPLAY” (not “DISplay”).

9. make-up

This word is similar. In “MAKE-up” the strong sound should be at the beginning, though some other languages that have adopted this word stress the second syllable.

10. clothes

This is a tricky word because we have to combined a voiced ‘th’ and ‘z’ sound. To do this, practise saying “th” like in “the” and “those” and then add a “z” to the end. We move the tongue back slightly in the mouth to move from the first sound to the second. When you feel confident with this, try adding the “clo” sound to the beginning. There is only one syllable in this word: “clothz” (not “clothe-iz”).


Which English words do you find most difficult to pronounce? Feel free to share in the comments below!

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