Non-native speakers mispronounce by the dozen every day. Even fluent speakers do. Even those working in high-paying white-collar jobs do.
Why have they been repeating these mistakes for years, even though mastering pronunciation isn’t that difficult?
The answer lies in this question: will they take corrective steps when they don’t even know they’re mispronouncing?
In this post, I’ll list correct pronunciation of more than 200 commonly-mispronounced words in English. And places. And brands.
In some of the pronunciations below, you’ll be off by just tiny bit (and that’s enough of a mistake), and therefore you’ll have to look at the pronunciations carefully to spot the mistake you’ve been making. To give an example, the correct pronunciation of the word ‘refrigerator’ is ‘ri-frij-uh-rey-ter’. However, almost everyone calls it ‘re-frij-uh-rey-ter’. Did you catch ‘ri’ vs. ‘re’? (The pronunciations in this post are in non-phonetic form, which is more intuitive than phonetic form.)
Before we jump into the list, here is a brief 101 lesson on how to read pronunciations mentioned in the tables below (click to open).
1. Each group of letters separated by the hyphen is called a syllable. For example, the pronunciation ‘re-frij-uh-rey-ter’ has five syllables. Syllables are the building blocks of pronunciation and are spoken as a unit sequentially.
2. The syllables in bold need to be stressed (means they need to be said louder and longer than other syllables). For example, the syllable ‘frij’ is stressed more than other syllables while pronouncing refrigerator. It may seem complicated when you read this, but it’s not. Listen to the pronunciation of refrigerator here, and pay attention to how the syllables are spoken separately (however, quickly) and how ‘frij’ is stressed.
3. ‘Uh’ or schwa sound appears in almost every second pronunciation. It is a neutral sound that occurs in unstressed syllables. I would suggest you to listen the pronunciation of few words such as address, balloon, and cadet at dictionary.com to get a hang of ‘uh’ sound.
4. When in doubt on any of the pronunciations, type in the word in dictionary.com and listen.
Here is the list of commonly mispronounced words arranged alphabetically. The last four tables cover places, universities, brands, and words with two pronunciations when used in different forms.
On the left column is the word and on the right is its correct pronunciation. For few pronunciations, I’ve highlighted in red the part where people commonly make mistake. This is to provide you few examples where you can easily take note of problem areas. (You’ll realize that in most cases you mispronounce because you speak the word the way it is spelt.)
When in doubt on any of the pronunciations in the tables below, type in the word in dictionary.com and listen the audio of the pronunciation.
|Complacency||kuh m-pley-suh n-see|
|Congratulation||kuh n-grach-uh–ley-shuh n|
|Faux Pas||foh pah|