In English as a Second Language, Learning English Challenges, Mispronounced English Words

10 Common English Words You Are Probably Pronouncing Wrong

Have you ever heard someone say a word in English, and you wonder if he/she misspoke or you misheard what they said? Believe it or not, this happens ALL the time! English can be a tough language to learn to speak, read, and write. Speaking is perhaps the most intimidating because of pronunciation – you wonder if you’re actually saying words correctly! These situations might arise at a restaurant, a store, or with friends. We want to help you speak English boldly and confidently – without second-guessing your every word! That’s the goal of our English programs at Excel.

For example, one commonly mispronounced word is when someone talks about their weight and height. The response is often: “my heighth (with a “th” sound) is 5 feet.” This mispronunciation doesn’t make sense since no one says “my weighth” (with a “th” sound) is 125 pounds.

The funny thing is, you might even hear native English speakers pronounce these words incorrectly! Rest assured, it’s not only for people who speak English as a second language. There are so many common words people mispronounce without even knowing it. Here are ten of the most common English words that are mispronounced.

1. Espresso please, hold the X

Next time you are in a coffee shop, listen to people’s order and notice if they are ordering an “expresso” or “espresso.” The correct pronunciation is “espresso.” There is no X in this word.

2. Nuclear with a Texas Drawl

President George W. Bush brought the next word to light when he said “nu-cu-lar” on national TV. The word is pronounced “nu-cle-ar.”

3. Clothes on, Close the Door

This is a popular one. “Clothes” vs. “close” is a tough one. For most people, both words sound the same, but the garments you wear have a voiced “th” sound. Asking someone to “cloze” the door when it’s raining sounds quite different with the voiced “z” sound.

4. Jewelry for Two Please

For ladies who love some bling, the pronunciation of rings, bracelets, and necklaces is “jewl-ry.” It’s a two-syllable word, not three. Don’t draw the pronunciation out like “jew-el-ry.”

5. We Often Speak Properly

How many times have you heard someone say “often” and sound out the “t”? It’s probably more “of-en” than you realize! The “t” in this word is silent, so don’t say it… ever, never.

6. Etc., Etc., Etc.

When you just don’t want to finish a thought or sentence and don’t want to say “blah, blah, blah”, you may choose to say “excetera”. However, this expression is actually two words pronounced “et cetera.” Believe it or not, there is no “x!”

7. The Color of Mauve

If you should ever need to describe a color with purple and pink hues, the name of that color is “mauve.” However, many people pronounce this like “mawve”, which is incorrect. The correct pronunciation rhymes with clove and is pronounced “mov” with a long “o” sound.

8. Just Three Vegetables

A popular mistake is the word “vegetable.” So many pronounce this food group with 4 syllables: “veg-e-ta-ble.” However, the second “e” ellipses and is not pronounced. The correct way to say it is “veg-ta-ble” with only 3 syllables.

9. Ask Away

Have you ever heard someone say, “Can I “aks” you a question?” Many people switch the s and k letters. The correct way to say this word is with a very understated “k” sound at the end, sounding like, “ass-k.”

10. The Bud is Nipped!

How about the expression to “nip it in the bud?” Many mispronounce this, saying “nip it in the butt”; meaning to stop something before it gets out of hand. But, “butt” is something you sit on, not nip.

Have you ever heard any of these? Have you ever mispronounced one? You’re not alone (clearly, since one of our very own presidents is included in the list!) We hope you were able to learn something new with us today. These are just a few of the words we hear mispronounced often at Excel. One of the fun parts of our job as language teachers is to gently correct our students’ pronunciation of English words. Our accent reduction class concentrates on this for our advanced students, helping them better understand the language and communicate with their peers.

If you are looking for help mastering the English language, give us a call!

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