In this English pronunciation lesson, I'm going to show you how to pronounce some very difficult words. These words are often mispronounced and are common mistakes that many English students make. This is because the combination of sounds is difficult, or because there are silent letters and syllables.
I've chosen these words because they are common words, but they are also words that are often said incorrectly by non-native speakers. These words are:
– almond and salmon
– et cetera (etc.)
– word, world & work
Let's fix these pronunciation mistakes together, so that you can speak English more clearly and confidently!
CLICK HERE to read the full lesson transcript.
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Hello! I'm Emma from mmmEnglish and in this lesson, I'm going to share with you 10 English words that you're probably mispronouncing! If you are learning to speak English, then pronunciation is probably one of the biggest frustrations that you have right now.
And these words that I've chosen are difficult because of the combination of letters or sounds in English. Together they can be quite difficult or your eyes can, in fact, play tricks on you because the letters that you see, they don't sound like you think they should and some of these words are even difficult for native English speakers to pronounce! But don't worry about it, don't sweat, we are going to fix these pronunciation problems right here, right now in this lesson!
Let's get started!
OK the first word is ‘vegetable', ‘vegetable'. Now this word is a challenge because it looks like there should be four syllables in this word. ‘Vegetable'. But there's not, there are three syllables, ‘vegetable'. Can you see the syllable – that we completely forget the ‘e'? ‘Vegetable'. We don't pronounce that second syllable. ‘Vegetable', ‘vegetable'. Fantastic!
I'm going to the market to get some vegetables for dinner.
Now this word, just like ‘vegetable', has an extra vowel in there that we don't need to pronounce. ‘Comfortable', not ‘comfortable' or ‘comfortable' but ‘comfort-able'. ‘Comfortable'. You skip that vowel sound. ‘Comfortable'.
You look very comfortable this afternoon.
Now in this word the ‘L' is silent. It's not ‘almond' or ‘almond', it's ‘almond', ‘almond', ‘almond', ‘almond'. I'm going to make an almond cake for dessert. Now there are lots of other English words that have a silent letter ‘L' in them – words like ‘salmon', not ‘salmon', ‘half', not ‘half', ‘would', ‘talk', ‘walk'. All of these words have a silent ‘L' in them, which makes them a little bit tricky to pronounce correctly.
I've got a separate video that is all about silent letters in English words and I talk about the letter ‘L' and lots of other silent letters in that video. You can check it out up here at the end of this video!
OK, what about this one?
How many times have you been asked to read a paragraph out aloud in front of the class and you've been reading and then you come across this and you think, ‘How on earth am I going to say that!?'
Lots of native English speakers actually mess this up as well and they'll pronounce X-cetera or X-cetera and it should be pronounced ‘et cetera', ‘et cetera','et cetera' or ‘et cetera', if you're like me.
OK this one is especially difficult! ‘Clothes', ‘clothes', ‘clothes'. Now the reason why it's especially difficult is because of the two final consonant sounds, the ‘-th' and the plural sound. Now this noun is of course, always plural. Clothes refers to shirts, shorts, trousers, jumpers, jackets – anything that you wear is your clothes, are your clothes!
But ‘clothes', ‘clothes', not ‘cloths, not ‘close' and not ‘clothes' either! The difficult thing about the pronunciation of this word is the two consonant sounds. Both of those sounds are voiced consonant sounds so the sound is made here in your vocal cords. Now the thing to remember that's really important is with that ‘-th' sound, you need to bring your teeth through – your tongue through your teeth! Now the ‘-th' sound is very, very soft. It is definitely still there, it needs to sound different from the verb ‘close'. OK, which doesn't have the ‘-th' sound. This word has the ‘-th' sound, ‘clothes', ‘clothes'. It's very short but it's definitely there!
I need to pack my clothes tonight because we leave early in the morning. I need to pack my clothes tonight.
‘Jewellery', ‘jewellery', ‘jewellery'. Again, we've got an extra vowel here that we don't need to pronounce. We don't say ‘jewellery', ‘jewellery'. It's just ‘jewellery' and actually in American English, the spelling is slightly different to the British and the Australian version. And the American version should help you to pronounce this word more correctly. ‘Jewelry', ‘jewelry'.
So that's gold, silver, pearls, diamonds, earrings, rings, necklaces – all of these things that we wear to make ourselves look more beautiful!
I don't wear a lot of of jewellery myself. The only jewellery I wear is this ring and sometimes more earrings.
‘Architecture', ‘architecture'. This one is so often mispronounced! I hear ‘architecture', ‘architecture' – which is incorrect! The ‘-ch' sound in this word is a sound like in ‘cat'. ‘Architecture', ‘architect'. ‘Architect'. It's not the same ‘-ch' sound that you hear in words like ‘chocolate' and ‘cheese', it's a sound and there are quite a few English words that actually have this same pronunciation of the ‘-ch' combination – words like ‘stoamch' and ‘ache'. The ‘-ch' in all of these words is pronounced like a sound.
My brother is an architect.
He went home early because he had a stomach ache.
‘Enthusiastic', not ‘enthu
siastic' or ‘enthusiastic', but ‘enthusiastic'. You have to work harder to get this one correct! So many of my students say “This one is too hard! I'm just not going to use this word!” and I say “NO, we are going to get it right, right now, together here in this lesson!”. ‘Enthusiastic'.
So what you need to do is break down this word. Start with the first syllable. Where is your tongue? What's it doing on that final consonant sound? It's at the top of your mouth and the ‘n' sound is made back in the soft palate – it's a nasal sound and to move to the ‘-th' sound, you need to of course, bring your tongue down and out through your teeth. The tongue must come out through the middle of your teeth If you don't, you will mispronounce this word and you'll say ‘enthusiastic' or ‘enthusiastic' instead. You need to say See how I'm breaking that down for you? ‘Enthusiastic', ‘enthusiastic'.
Now you're going to be enthusiastic about using that word!
9. Word / world / work
Now you're probably mispronouncing these words because you are looking at the ‘-or' and you're trying to pronounce the vowel sound ‘or', like in ‘door'. But this is incorrect, the vowel sound is actually as in ‘her'. ‘Work', ‘world', ‘word'.
This is your eyes playing tricks on you! Your eyes are seeing these words, seeing the letters O and R and they're telling you to pronounce ‘or' but, in fact, you should be pronouncing ‘or' for all of these words! ‘Word', ‘world', ‘work'. If you pronounce ‘or', especially for this last one, ‘work', it actually sounds a lot like the English word, ‘walk'.
‘Photograph'. Now perhaps you can pronounce this word correctly, ‘photograph', but what about all of the other words in this word family? ‘Photography', ‘photographer', ‘photographic'. When my students mispronounce these words, it's usually because they are stressing the wrong syllable.
English words that have more than one syllable always have one strong stressed syllable. Sometimes there are secondary syllables but there is always one main stressed syllable that is clearer and stronger than the others and the unstressed syllable – the syllable that's not stressed – is often reduced down to a schwa vowel sound. Now the schwa sound is the lazier sound in English. That's the schwa sound, it's the laziest vowel sound in English. And these stress patterns are exactly what is different about the pronunciation of these words, so in the first example, ‘photograph', the first syllable is the stressed syllable. The second syllable is unstressed and it is reduced down to the schwa sound. ‘Photograph', ‘photograph', it's very short, it's very lazy, it's not very strong at all.
Now if you look at the second example, ‘photograph', you can hear the pronunciation is different and that's because the second syllable is the stressed syllable in this word. ‘Photography'. ‘Photography'. Compare it to the first syllable where the schwa sound is – it reduces down to the schwa sound and you just hear ‘photography'. ‘Photographer'.
The third example, ‘photographic', the stress is on the third syllable, so you can hear how much influence stress has on this word family.
To correctly pronounce all of these words correctly, you need to pay attention to the stressed syllable and that's true for a whole range of different word families. ‘Economic', ‘nature', ‘politics', all of these words and their word families are influenced by stress in different ways.
Well that's my official list of the words that you are probably mispronouncing and I didn't just make that list up, I built that list over years and years of coaching English students to improve their English pronunciation. They're the words that students consistently get wrong! Many different students, many different times, they are the ones that are the most difficult for you to pronounce.
I hope that you enjoyed this lesson, if you did make sure you subscribe by clicking the red button here. I mentioned a video about silent letters earlier in this lesson, you can watch it here and you can also watch my imitation lessons right here and those lessons are fantastic for improving your English pronunciation and expression by speaking with a native English speaker. Thanks for watching and I will see you in the next lesson. Bye for now!
mmmEnglish Video Lessons are a series of video lessons created to build confidence in English learners and focus on English in daily life. Download them and watch them anywhere! Subscribe to my YouTube Channel to be the first to get my new videos, and come and say hi on my Facebook page!!
Thanks Emma for your tips in english pronounciation words and would like to learn more from you.
Thanks very much. Wish to learn about about pronunciation. Thanks once again
Second “e” in ” jewelry ” is pronounced or no please reply for me thank for you
Thank you so much. I have difficult time in communication with English speaker. I have strong accent. I figured out because of my pronunciation. You reach me at the right time.Thake you
I just begin to study english whith your videos.
I am improving.
Please, don't repet the wrong pronunciaton.
I am learning whith my ears. Its the natural ways, I think. Thank for your lesson
Wonderful!Thank you so much,Emma!
Thanks a lot!
Your teaching is so attractive. Thank you so much.
Hi Emma plz write syllables like dictionary
thank you so much Emma I liked the way how you teaching us , really i improved my pronounciation skills because of your videos
Awesome! I'm glad I could help Marwa and thanks for visiting my website 🙂
Hi Emma,I just find out you 2 days ago, I'am really happy for this chance. I was looking for a person like you to enhance my english speaking.
Thank you for your amazing vedios.
I'm so glad you found me, Afsoun! Welcome to mmmEnglish 🙂
Thank you. The close up tongue is brilliant. That is what I have been looking for all my life. (I don't mean about your nice lips and teeth 🙂 I am married – straight lady 🙂 My husband is English but he is useless and fed up with my question everytime when I ask him'where he puts his tongue when he says that?':)) Thank you once again.
I am a native English speaker and i disagree with you saying there is a silent ‘l' in almond.This,I believe,is purely down to your Australian accent.This ‘l' is most definately pronounced in Britain
This is also true in American speech.
I think the silent letter point is important – a real tip off that the speaker hasn't had a native teacher.
Another difficulty – an extreme one – for Brazilians is not the “or” in “world” but the “rl” combo, generally resulting in a conflation of world and word.
Before reading the notes to the video I thought your accent was more British than Australian.
Then what about this:
At 4:34 in the YouTube of this presentation, you refer to the t-haitch of the word.
I'm sure you meant to say the t-aitch. Only frogs (French people) pronounce the letter h with a hard H!
No, that's not correct: actually, British Indians, too, pronounce it with a hard “h”.
I am Vietnamese so i can speak the “word/world/work” easily because the “or” is pronoun like “ơ” in Vietnamese
l like vidio
I think you make a tragic mistake placing written English before spoken English. That method of teaching English in my country makes students unable to recognize a spoken new word; they need to see it written.
Their is always a conflict in pronunciation between the regions where English is being spoken.
Almond/Salmon is a case in point. So is, ‘Often'……. What's your take on the ‘t' here? Silent…..is it!?
In Britain it isn't. So, their is a choice…. after all. I wd like you to consider the word ‘Gate' and confirm if it is in line phonetically
with the totally different word ‘Gait'!?
Merci beaucoup. Adieu.
Thanks Emma for your helpfull videos and explanation.
You're so welcome Luisa! Thank you for leaving a comment 🙂
Please note H is pronounced aitch not haitch.
Thankyou. Its helpful
You're welcome Malik! Are there any other words you find hard to pronounce? 🙂
Thanks Emma every lesson is very interesting .I enjoy your cooking videos the most. I'm from SA and learn English to communicate with my grandchildren in Melbourn.You are the best of the best!
Thank you Mercia! I love cooking too.. so I'll to make another lesson in the kitchen!
Thanks Emma for teaching in slow pace and make it interesting. Its very helpful.
You're welcome, Abdul!
Thank you so much. Because of my prounuciation I had hard time in communication. Thank you so much Teach me more
You're welcome Almaz! Thanks for your comment 🙂
Very grateful I am to you for helping so many of us persons born in countries other than the U.S.A. I fortunately possess very considerable knowledge of English, because very luckily I have been such a voracious daily reader of the best books I can find, most especially regarding the very best extremely vital works on the subject of the divine and the spiritual, which are supremely above any other theme that could possibly be considered. Constant blessings and very best wishes in every aspect of your existence and life.
Thank you Emma
your way to teach English is captivating
You are a graeat teacher. Actually I have a problem, pronouncing “methodology”.would you please give me any solution to fix it?
I'll be very thankful to you.