We Bet You've Been Mispronouncing These 25 English Words

In this article, we're going to dive into a few words in the English dictionary that you may be pronouncing wrongly.

Updated 28 Apr 2020

Have You Been Mispronouncing These 25 English Words? - Feature-Image

It's always good to check in with your mastery of a language, no matter your proficiency level. In this article, we're diving into a few words in the English dictionary that you may be pronouncing wrongly. Here we go!

#1. Aisle

You may be pronouncing it: ai-suhl / ei-suhl

What it actually is: ile (listen here)

The next time you're at a supermarket, remember that you're walking along the aisle with a silent "s". Just think of the word "isle" which also has a silent "s".

#2. Archive

You may be pronouncing it: aa-keev / aa-cheev

What it actually is: AA-kive (listen here)

While the Malay word for "archive" may be spelled and pronounced as "arkib", the English word is said like the word "sky".

#3. Athlete

You may be pronouncing it: eh-tuh-leet / eh-tleet

What it actually is: ATH-leet (listen here)

The pronunciation of "th" is always a little tricky, so remember an athlete's speed and enunciate the "ath" as best as you can.

#4. Calendar

You may be pronouncing it: kuh-len-duh

What it actually is: KA-luhn-duh (listen here)

Just as a calendar showcases the dates and months in a year, its first syllable should be showcased first by emphasising the "ka" compared to the last two.

#5. Colonel

You may be pronouncing it: kuh-luh-nuhl / koh-loh-nuhl

What it actually is: KUH-nuhl (listen here)

If you're guilty of ordering a "Koh-loh-nuhl" Burger at KFC, it's time to start afresh and order a "Kuh-nuhl" Burger instead.

#6. Congrats

You may be pronouncing it: con-grates

What it actually is: KUHN-grats (listen here)

It's grating to the ears whenever you say "con-grates", so pat people on the back with a proper "kuhn-grats". Congratulations, you've pronounced it the right way!

#7. Cupboard

You may be pronouncing it: cuhp-bohrd

What it actually is: KUH-buhd (listen here)

It may have the word "cup" in it, but the "p" is generally silent. The "o" is also not emphasised, making the pronunciation a breezy "kuh-buhd".

#8. Debris

You may be pronouncing it: deh-brees / duh-brees

What it actually is: DEI-bree (listen here)

The silent "s" strikes again. Under the rubble and debris, remember to say it as "dei-bree".

#9. Debut

You may be pronouncing it: dee-buht / dei-butt / duh-buht

What it actually is: DEI-byoo (listen here)

Kpop stans should have no problem correctly pronouncing this word as plenty of groups make their debut constantly. Make your "dei-byoo" as a correct pronouncer with this!

#10. Epitome

You may be pronouncing it: eh-pi-tohme

What it actually is: uh-PI-tuh-mee (listen here)

The word "epitome" is the best epitome of a word that constantly gets mispronounced. Utter it as "uh-pi-tuh-mee" and you're golden.

#11. Forte

You may be pronouncing it: forht

What it actually is: FOR-tei (listen here)

Imagine you're a little fancier than usual and pay attention to pronouncing the "e" at the back of "forte". Oui, you definitely have a forte for pronouncing "forte".

#12. Gauge

You may be pronouncing it: gowj

What it actually is: geij (listen here)

There is a word pronounced as "gowj", and that's "gouge". The word "gauge" is said as "geij". Remember the difference between the two words or else people might misunderstand you!

#13. Genre

You may be pronouncing it: jen-ruh / jen-rei

What it actually is: ZHON-ruh (listen here)

The French word meaning "kind" or "sort" woefully gets mispronounced plenty of times. Practise mastering the pronunciation of "zhon" and you'll be there in no time.

#14. Honour

You may be pronouncing it: hoh-nuhr / hoh-nuh

What it actually is: O-nuh (listen here)

It's an honour to know when you've mastered the correct pronunciation of a difficult word, so remember to drop the "h" in "honour" to say it as "o-nuh".

#15. Invitation

You may be pronouncing it: in-vie-tei-shun

What it actually is: in-vuh-TEI-shun (listen here)

The word "invite" may be said as "in-vie-t", but it's not the same for "invitation". Keep it classy with a "vuh" instead the next time you're sending out invitations to people.

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#16. Liaise

You may be pronouncing it: lai-uhs

What it actually is: lee-AYZ (listen here)

This word trips many people up because of the multiple instances of “i”. Try imagining that you have to “lee-ayz” with Mr Lee for some satays and you’ll be on track!

#17. Mayonnaise

You may be pronouncing it: mah-yoh-nees / mei-yoh-nees

What it actually is: mei-uh-NEIZ (listen here)

Despite its spelling of “naise” in the last syllable, many often pronounce it as “nees”. Perhaps you can think of drizzling the “mei-uh-neiz” on some satays?

#18. Menu

You may be pronouncing it: muh-noo

What it actually is: MEH-nyoo (listen here)

The "nu" in "menu" isn't said the way a cow moos; pronounce it the way you say "new"!

#19. Mischievous

You may be pronouncing it: mis-chee-vee-yuhs

What it actually is: MIS-chuh-vuhs (listen here)

Funny how a letter "i" in the middle of a word can throw off the way people pronounce a word, eh? If ever someone gets up to mischief, emphasise the first syllable and remember that it’s “vuhs” not “vee-yuhs”.

#20. Niche

You may be pronouncing it: neech

What it actually is: neesh (listen here)

This is pretty simple to mispronounce, and pretty simple to correct after you've learnt what needs to be fixed. Simply replace the "ch" sound with a "sh" and you're done.

#21. Plumber

You may be pronouncing it: plum-buh

What it actually is: PLUH-muh (listen here)

The silent letter of the English language is back! This time, it's the "b" in "plumber". Got a leaky faucet? Call the "pluh-muh" to fix it.

#22. Pronunciation

You may be pronouncing it: pro-noun-see-ay-shun

What it actually is: pruh-NUHN-see-ay-shun (listen here)

It's funny how the pronunciation of "pronunciation" is always mispronounced. This could be due to the influence of the pronunciation of "pronounce" with an obvious "o". Ditch the "o" next time!

#23. Rendezvous

You may be pronouncing it: rehn-dez-voos

What it actually is: RON-dei-voo (listen here)

Ah, the French and their beautiful but oh-so-hard-to-pronounce language. When you're arranging to meet at a certain time and place in future, pronounce it as "ron-dei-voo” as the French do.

#24. Quay

You may be pronouncing it: kway

What it actually is: kee (listen here)

A quay is a platform lying alongside water to load or unload ships. Cargo and shipping aside, this unique word is pronounced the same way as "key".

#25. Sword

You may be pronouncing it: s-wuh-d

What it actually is: sawd (listen here)

That pesky "w" is to blame for fooling people into thinking it has to be pronounced. Forget about it the next time you use it in conversation as it's a silent "w".

So, how many words have you been mispronouncing? It's okay, plenty of others have made the same blips too! This shouldn't stop you from improving your English, though. The sooner you learn, the faster you'll master the language. Onwards to full mastery!

Worried if you’re pronouncing more words wrongly? Check out even more English words you may be mispronouncing.

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    Melissa Mazlan

    Melissa Mazlan

    Your friendly Klang representative who enjoys romantic walks to the fridge.