It’s not a secret English has one of the craziest spelling systems in all European languages. Really, why are words never read like we expect them to be?
In this article, you will learn about the most commonly mispronounced words in English and how to improve your pronunciation and listening skills.
What are commonly mispronounced words in English?
Don’t accentuate (=pronounce clearly) the final suffixes and unstressed syllables in long words
‘-ous’ (sounds like /es/): various, serious, nervous, obvious, previous, dangerous
‘-tion’ (sounds like /shin/ not /shon/): information, section, decision, population, association, organization, position, commission
‘-ture’ (sounds like /che/): future, feature, creature, moisture, picture
‘-ate’ (sounds like /et/ not /eit/): corporate, desperate, private, separate, adequate
‘-able’ (sounds like /ebl/ not /eible/): questionable, reliable, doable
A lot of borrowed words have their own rules of reading
– Latin and Greek words have ‘ch’ pronounced like /k/, not /ch/, for example, character, chemistry, architecture, architect, mechanic
– ‘Ph’ is always read /f/, not as two letters: phone, sphere, nephew, physics, graph
– You will find that in most cases we pronounce ‘au’ letter combination like /o/ not /au/: pause, audience, Austria, Australia, author
Combinations of vowels e/i/y/u with ‘r’ in the middle of words all sound the same
We pronounce all these words similarly: girl, term, turn, burn, spur, Myrtie, shirt, bird, heard, early, thirsty, skirt, fur, dirty, curse, work
You need to remember words with silent letters (=letters which are written but not pronounced)
Some of them: (letters in red are not pronounced)
knife, knot, knee, knitting, knock,
autumn, damn, column,
bomb, numb, climb, lamb, doubt, plumber, debt,
resign, design, foreigner,
guest, guess, colleague, guilty, tongue, biscuit,
almond, palm, calf, half, talk, walk
write, wrap, wrist, wren, wrong
Make sure you pronounce all these words right. Practise with the audio.
This could be confusing, but they are absolutely learnable. I recommend working with these rules step by step.