20 Commonly Mispronounced Words in English

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You’re probably pronouncing these words wrong – yes, even you, native English speakers! Today I’m going to teach you the right way to say 20 English words that are commonly mispronounced – so you can say them confidently.

Because this lesson focuses on pronunciation, I’m not going to explain the definitions – but if you download the free lesson guide PDF, each word has its definition and an example sentence.

OK, are you ready? Make sure to practice with me by repeating these words out loud using the correct pronunciation.

How to pronounce ESPRESSO

Say espresso, not expresso. People get it confused with the word “express,” but there is no “x.” It’s espresso.

20 Commonly Mispronounced Words in English Espresso English

How to pronounce NUCLEAR

This word is pronounced NUC-lee-er, not NUC-you-ler. Unfortunately the incorrect pronunciation is very common, even by some U.S. presidents, politicians, and even scientists. But it should be nuclear.

How to pronounce JEWELRY

There are two syllables – JEWL-ry – but a lot of people say JEW-ler-y with three syllables.

A person who works with jewelry professionally is called a JEW-ler, but the pieces themselves are JEWL-ry, two syllables.

20 Commonly Mispronounced Words in English Espresso English

How to pronounce ETC.

This abbreviation is pronounced et cetera, not excetera. Similar to the thing with espresso – there’s no “x” sound. It’s et cetera.

How to pronounce MAUVE

This word refers to a purplish color and is pronounce mouv (“o” as in “mow”) not mawv (“aw” as in “law”). It’s not a super common word though, so let’s move on.

How to pronounce VEGETABLE

This should be pronounced VEJ-ta-bul (three syllables), not VE-ge-ta-ble.

Vege is one syllable, vej, like the word “edge.” So remind your kids to eat their vegetables.

20 Commonly Mispronounced Words in English Espresso English

How to pronounce EPITOME

This word is pronounced e-PIT-o-me, not E-pi-tome.

In most English words, the final “e” is silent, like in the words name and like, but epitome is an exception.

How to pronounce MISCHIEVOUS

This one should be MIS-chiev-ous (three syllables), but many people mispronounce it as mis-CHEE-vi-ous. I have no idea where that comes from. Say it with me: mischief (that’s the noun), mischievous (that’s the adjective).

20 Commonly Mispronounced Words in English Espresso English

How to pronounce PRESTIGIOUS

Many people say “pres-TEE-gious,” but the correct way is “pres-TI-gious” (short “i” as in “tick”). Probably because the noun form is “prestige,” it does have that EE sound, but the adjective form should be pronounced “prestigious.”

How to pronounce SEGUE

This word is pronounced SEG-way, not SEG-you. It came into English from Italian, which got it from Latin.

How to pronounce REMUNERATION

Sometimes people mix up the M and N and pronounce it as “renumeration” – but that second syllable should be MYUN – re-MYUN-er-a-tion.

How to pronounce PRESCRIPTION

The wrong way to say it is “perscription” – again, switching the R and the E. But it should be pre-, pre- prescription.

20 Commonly Mispronounced Words in English Espresso English

How to pronounce SUPPOSEDLY

Way too many people pronounce this “supposably” but it should be “supposedly.”

Actually, “supposably” is a word in itself, but it has a slightly different meaning – supposably means “able to be supposed,” and “supposedly” means it is supposed, a similar meaning to “allegedly.”

How to pronounce CHALET

This word comes from French and is pronounced shal-LAY, just like ballet, filet, and gourmet. We do not say “shallet” rhyming with “mallet.”

20 Commonly Mispronounced Words in English Espresso English

How to pronounce CACHE

This word is also from French, but it is pronounced “cash,” just like money. Don’t say “ca-SHAY.”

How to pronounce SHERBET

Some people pronounce this as “sherbert” and it’s so common that some dictionaries even list it as an alternative pronunciation! But there’s no R in the second syllable – it should be sherbet.

Don’t get it confused with a similar word, sorbet (sor-BAY), they are different desserts. Sherbet has milk or cream in it but sorbet does not.

20 Commonly Mispronounced Words in English Espresso English

How to pronounce CAVALRY

Repeat after me: CA-val-ry. Many people mispronounce it as “CAL-va-ry,” which is also a word, but not the same word. This one is cavalry.

How to pronounce CLIQUE

This word is pronounced “click,” just like the sound click – not “cleek” or “clee-kay” or anything like that. Just “click.”

How to pronounce ECCENTRIC

I actually used to mispronounce this one – I used to say “ee-SEN-tric” but it should actually be “ek-SEN-tric.” That double C is like in the word success – the first C sounds like K and the second one sounds like S.

How to pronounce QUINOA

This is pronounced KEEN-wah, not kin-O-a, or quin-o-a. Make sure to say it KEEN-wah.

20 Commonly Mispronounced Words in English Espresso English

Now you can avoid mistakes with commonly mispronounced words!

So, were you making any of these pronunciation mistakes? Which of these 20 words was most surprising to you? Now you can say these commonly mispronounced words with confidence!

And again, if you want to find out what the words mean, no need to look them all up in the dictionary – I’ve saved you some time by including all the definitions in the free PDF that’s available here:

Download lesson PDF

If you’re learning English as a second language, you definitely want nice clear and correct pronunciation so that you can be sure other people will understand you. My pronunciation course can help you practice and improve your accent!

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20 Commonly Mispronounced Words in English Espresso English

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