One of the easiest ways to take control of your speech as you begin to learn how to speak English with a refined, standardized American accent is by creating a running list of all those words you believe you habitually mispronounce during the course of a day. This list, in turn, can be used by your accent coach to get a better idea of what areas you need to work on.

The words to be featured on this list are those you don’t bother to correct yourself on while speaking conversationally. Either because you don’t want to draw undue attention to the error and interrupt the flow of conversation, or perhaps because you don’t know exactly what’s wrong with your pronunciation of a word such as “athlete” and don’t feel comfortable pronouncing it any other way.

Besides, you’ve probably heard native English speakers pronounce numerous words in ways that appear to deviate substantially from the phonetic spelling assigned to said words in the dictionary. What exactly is the problem here? The truth is that there are many words in the English language that are mispronounced by native English speakers every day, with many of them being completely unaware of their mistakes.

Fortunately, with the aid of the aforementioned personalized frequently mispronounced words list combined with the words below, you can stay ahead of the curve by learning how to speak English more clearly.


Common mispronunciation: athelete

People tend to mispronounce the word athlete because they keep on adding an extra syllable in the middle of the word. There should only be two syllables when enunciating the word. For the word athletic, the acceptable pronunciation consists of only three syllables, and not four.

To say it correctly: Remember, it just has two syllables. It’s pronounced ath-leet, and not ath-A-leet. For the word “athletic”, the pronunciation is ath-let-ic, and not ath-let-A-tic.


Common mispronunciation: perscription

This is what you get when you go to the doctor, and she gives you a note to take to the pharmacist. The issue with pronouncing prescription is the prefix “pre.” Most people confuse it with another valid prefix, “per.” Also, people tend to mix up the “re” in the first syllable with “er.”

To say it correctly: Be mindful of the correct prefix. It’s pronounced as PRE-scrip-tion, and not PER-scrip-tion.


Common mispronunciation: close

how to speak EnglishThough they may sound nearly identical, the words “clothes” and “close” are not homonyms. Most mispronunciations of the “clothes” can be attributed to a tendency to reduce the word down to a single syllable, overlooking the presence of the soft TH sound in the middle of the word.

To say it correctly: The letter E is silent. Make a long z sound to stress the end of the word.

How to Speak English: Where to Learn More

Accent Pros has a continuing series on how to speak English, including common English phrases and American idioms. Be sure to check out other blog posts to find your favorites. Ready for a complimentary accent reduction tutorial or afree accent screening? Check out our on-line accent reduction courses available to students with accent reduction goals all over the world. For consistent access to our idioms series and other how to speak English tips Like us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter