The English language can be a confusing and difficult language to learn. There are many common mispronunciations in English that can make learning even more frustrating to new learners. Also, English is a language that is not always pronounced as it is written which can cause a great amount of confusion. Something to consider with English pronunciation is that English is made up from made different language’s root words such as Greek or Latin and there have been different adaptations since their original use. So what words are considered the most common mispronounced?
Library (Say: lai-bruh-ree)
For new learners, it can be difficult to pronounce “ry” sounds as well as “br” sounds and this word unfortunately has both. It is often mispronounced as “Lye-Berry” in general conversation but this pronunciation is in fact not correct.
“I like to go to the lai-bruh-ree to study and to complete my homework.”
Wednesday (Say: WENZ-day)
There are far more letters in this word than the actual pronunciation. The word Wednesday, while said, is shortened to “Wenzday” despite there being no “z” in the word. Also, a commonly misspelled word for most native English speakers.
“Let’s go to the cinema on wenz-day!”
Stomach (Say: Stum-uk )
The confusion with how to say this word lies within the “ch” aspect of this word. Is it a “shh” noise or is it a “k-uh” noise? In this case it’s the latter. The confusion with how to pronounce the “ch” noise comes from the fact that English has both greek and latin derivatives in modern day versions.
“This roller coaster is making me feel sick to my stum-uk.”
Clothes (Say: Clo-oze or Clohthz)
In this word, it can already be difficult to pronounce the “th” sound but there is also the addition of the letter e that isn’t pronounced. Because of the use of the letter e at the end of the word, it also changes the vowel sound so this word sounds as if there is a z sound when in fact there is no letter z to be found.
“I need to hurry home to pack all of my clo-oze.”
Iron (Say: Eye-urn)
Wether you are learning how to pronounce this word in American English or British English this word is not pronounced as it is written. This word’s pronunciation has morphed over the years. Most Americans pronounce the word as “eye-urn” despite the position of the r and o.
“My shirt is so wrinkled! I need the eye-urn.”
Sixth (Say: Siksth)
The “th” sound is yet again present and can make this word hard to pronounce. If you practice saying the word “six” and add the “th”, you’ve basically got the gist of the word said. Just soften the x with more of a k sound when saying this word.
“We tried really hard to win the race but we only managed to come in siksth place.”
Yolk (Say: Yowk)
When learning how to say this word you should remember to not focus on pronouncing each letter. In fact, pretend the l is not a part of the word at all. Also, in case you were wondering, the yolk is the yellow part of the egg.
“When making scrambled eggs, mix the yowk thoroughly before adding to the pan.”
Mischievous (Say: MIS-chuh-vuhs)
This is often said as “mis-chee-vee-yuhs” and if you ever find yourself in the southern areas of the United States this is incredibly common. This word can be deceivingly hard to pronounce because it is common to want to pronounce each letter in the word.
“That young boy in the neighborhood stole another bike! He is so mischievous!”
Epitome (Say: Uh-PI-tuh-mee)
And here we are again with the inclusion of an e but this time, it is to be pronounced. Or is it? The first e is less pronounced and often is more of an “uh” sound while the ending e is elongated in it’s sound making an “eee” noise.
“This outfit is the uh-PI-tuh-mee of fashion.”
Athlete (Say: Ath-leet)
The “th” sound has been described by non-English speakers as being a difficult aspect of pronunciation. Usually, this word is mispronounced as “athalet” but remember to keep the “ATH” aspect of this word enunciated.
“I like to practice and train hard so that one day I may be a professional Ath-leet.”
Salmon (Say: Sam-un)
This is another example of a silent letter in a word despite the presence of it. A common pronunciation of this is sam-un. Just pretend the L isn’t even there at all.
“I would love to make a fresh sam-un for dinner.”
No matter the word or how it seems to be spelt there is a high chance that it will be pronounced differently. It can be confusing but with practice (like most things) it will become easier. Let’s practice with a quick quiz!
Below is an easy multiple choice quiz to test your knowledge on hard to pronounce English words. See how well you do and review the words above if you need assistance.
- Is the word Wednesday pronounced like wed-nes-day or wenz-day?
- A. Wed-nes-day
- B. wenz-day
- How is the word Iron said?
- A. eye-ron
- B. eye-urn
- If you wanted to read a book and go to the library, how would you pronounce the word?
- A. lye-berry
- B. lai-bruh-ree
- You checked your schedule and need to make an appoint on March 6th, how would you say the word sixth?
- A. Siksth
- B. Sisth
- You are telling your friend that you want to go shopping for clothes, how would you say the word clothes?
- A. Clo-oze
- B. Cluu-ze
- How would you go about pronouncing the word epitome?
- A. ee-peet-omee
- B. uh-PI-tuh-mee
- You are feeling very unwell and need to go to the doctor to see what is wrong. You describe your symptoms to the doctor as having pain in your stomach. How do you say the word stomach?
- A. Stum-uk
- B. Stom-uu-g
- You are making fresh pasta and a recipe is asking you to include seven yolks into the dough. How do you say the word yolk?
- A. Yowk
- B. Y-o-l-ch
- You are telling someone who your favorite athlete is. How do you say athlete?
- A. Ath-leet
- B. Ath-uh-lit
- Here is a challenging one! How would you tell your friend that someone is being mischievous?
- A. mis-chee-vee-yuhs
- B. mis-chuh-vuhs
- What’s for dinner tonight? Let’s have salmon. How would you say it?
- A. SAL-mun
- B. Sam-un
So, how did you do with your practice? Were there any words that you found difficult? Were there any words that you found easy? As you continue with your practice in learning English, try and identify other words that you may find difficult to pronounce.