Language Lab

10 most commonly mispronounced English words

One of the toughest things about learning English is that words don’t always sound as you would expect them to. This is because English is a combination of so many other languages. English learners from all over the world face different challenges with pronunciation because of interference from their first language. There are, however, some words that learners from all over the world and many native-speakers have trouble with. Let’s take a look at them and learn to avoid 10 of the most common English pronunciation mistakes.


This word has only one syllable, the ‘e’ is silent and the ‘s’ makes a ‘zzz’ sound. Be careful not to say ‘clothe iz’.


This word only has two syllables ‘koh-leeg’. Make sure not to pronounce the ‘ue’ on the end. When it’s a plural, the ‘s’ makes a ‘zzz’ sound like in ‘clothes’.


Many people have trouble pronouncing English words which have two ‘r’ sounds close together. Make sure to pronounce both ‘r’ sounds: Feb-roo-a-ree, not Feb-yoo-a-ree. Similarly, ‘library’ should be pronounced ‘li-bra-ri’.


Be careful to avoid adding extra syllables in the middle of words. For example, make sure there are only two syllables in ‘athlete': ath-leet, not ath-a-leet.

Escape and especially

Putting an extra ‘x’ sound in words with ‘es’ is a common mistake in English. Make sure to say ‘escape’ and ‘especially’ rather than ‘excape’ or ‘expecially’.


Watch out for silent letters. In the ‘Wednesday’, the ‘d’ is silent. The word is pronounced ‘wenz-day’.


If you go to the doctor, he or she might give you a prescription to take to the pharmacist so you can buy any medicine you need. Sometimes people mix up the ‘re’ with ‘er’ and say ‘per-scrip-tion’ instead of pronouncing it correctly as ‘pre-scrip-tion’.


Mixing up the ‘s’ and ‘k’ in ‘ask’ is a very common mistake that many native-speakers make. In fact, it is a common part of some English dialects. If you are learning general English, make sure to say ‘ask’ not ‘ax’ so that it sounds correct to people all over the world.


Again, this is a word where people often get confused about the order of the sounds and pronounce it ‘nu-cu-lar’. Remember to get the sounds in the correct order and pronounce it ‘nuc-lee-ar’.


The final common mistake is with the word ‘pronunciation’ itself! Many people get confused with the sound of the verb form ‘pronounce’ and say ‘pronounciation’ for the noun form. This is incorrect. Make sure to say ‘pro-nun-si-ay-shun’ if you want to be correct.

Once you’ve mastered these words, your pronunciation will be more correct than many native speakers. Then you can go on to overcome pronunciation challenges that are more specific to your first language.


Wil is a writer, teacher, learning technologist and keen language learner. He’s taught English in classrooms and online for nearly 10 years, trained teachers in using classroom and web technology, and written e-learning materials for several major websites. He speaks four languages and is currently looking for another one to start learning.


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