Learn to Speak English: Mispronounced Words

///Learn to Speak English: Mispronounced Words

Learn to Speak English: Mispronounced Words

Learn to Speak English: Working Towards Clearer Pronunciation

Business professionals and others who speak English as a second language (ESL) know that when speaking, they are likely to be judged by strangers for speaking American English with an accent. Any advantage an ESL speaker can find as they learn to speak English will help in establishing credibility.

Pronunciation is one area that can be significantly refined. Unfortunately, there are many words in the English language that are mispronounced by both native English speakers and foreign English speakers, many times without the individual being aware of the inaccuracy. These mispronunciations have become commonplace, but our blog may be able to help some individuals make some positive changes.

Below you will find a few commonly mispronounced words picked by our clients at Accent Pros. The example is linked to dictionary.com and includes an easy to understand representation of how the word is supposed to be pronounced using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). We also provided a second explanation using a spelling pronunciation guide. If you want to hear how the word is pronounced, simply click on any of the given words and you will be redirected to dictionary.com where an audio version of the correct pronunciation is provided.


Learn to speak English 1. literature

IPA Pronunciation Guide: /ˈlɪt ər ə tʃər, -ˌtʃʊər, ˈlɪ trə-/

Spelling Pronunciation Guide:

[lid-er-uh-cher, -choo r, li-truh-]

learn to speak EnglishExample: literature

Definition: Written works which are considered to have artistic merit.

Why it’s difficult to pronounce: This word has the potential to be mispronounced at either of two distinct points. The first [t] should be pronounced as a /d/ sound and the second [t] should be pronounced as a “ch” /tʃ/ sound.

Learn to speak English 2. onomatopoeia

IPA Pronunciation Guide: /ˌɒn əˌmæt əˈpi ə, ‐ˌmɑ tə‐/

Spelling Pronunciation Guide: [on-uh-mat-uh-pee-uh, ‐mah-tuh‐]

Example: onomatopoeia

Definition: A figure of speech; written representation of the sound it imitates. e.g. Boom! Pow! learn to speak English

Why it’s difficult to pronounce: The letter t should be pronounced as a /d/ sound. The “poeia” ending of this word can be confusing due to the presence of three successive vowels.


Learn to speak English 3. exclamation

IPA Pronunciation Guide: /ˌɛk skləˈmeɪ ʃən/

Spelling Pronunciation Guide: ek-skluh-mey-shuh n]

Example: Exclamation

Definition: A sudden cry. Usually, exclamations are sentences or expressions which end in an exclamation point (!).

Why it’s difficult to pronounce: The transition from the first syllable to the second can be burdensome because of the rapid succession of “k,” “s,” “k” sounds. It is made even more difficult by ending tion, which is pronounced as “shen”.


Learn to speak English 4. hyperbole

IPA Pronunciation Guide: /haɪˈpɜr bə li/

Spelling Pronunciation Guide: hahy-pur-buh-lee

learn to speak EnglishExample: Hyperbole

Definition: A figure of speech which exaggerates things.

Why it’s difficult to pronounce: The first two syllables are easy to pronounce because “hyper” exists as a separate word. “Bole” however becomes difficult to pronounce because usually, words ending in “ole” are pronounced like the way you would the word “hole” or “role.” It therefore becomes tempting to pronounce hyperbole as “high-PER-bowl”.

Learn to speak English 5. simile

IPA Spelling Guide: /ˈsɪm ə li/

Spelling Pronunciation Guide: sim-uh-lee

Example: Simile

Definition: A figure of speech which directly compares things. learn to speak English

Why it’s difficult to pronounce: Simile, upon first glance, looks like the word smile. Looking closer, notice there’s an “i” following the first letter. Although “si” might be accidentally pronounced as “see-”, the especially difficult part of this word can be found in the last two syllables. Second language learners may think of pronouncing words ending in “-ile” the way you would when pronouncing “mile,” “tile,” or “bile” which may result in the mistake of pronouncing this word as “si-MILE.”

Accent Pros Frequently Mispronounced Words Series

This is the first article in a series that will focus on the most commonly mispronounced words in the English language. If you’ve reached the end of the article and are surprised to find words you thought you were pronouncing correctly, don’t worry! There are a number of words in the English language that have had their pronunciation modified throughout the years due to the influence of regional dialects, tradition, and social media to name a few contributing factors. Keeping up with the ever evolving state of the English language has never been more important. Be sure to check out posts from our popular idioms series and stand alone topics. Are you ready for a complimentary accent reduction tutorial or a free foreign accent screening? Our on-line accent reduction courses are available to students with accent reduction goals all over the world. For consistent access to posts in our commonly mispronounced word series and other accent reduction tips, please Like us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter.

2017-03-23T06:46:45-05:00By |