4 Motivating TED Talks in Portuguese For Polishing Your Language Skills
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Learning the proper pronunciation of English words is important if you want to be able to hold conversations with English speakers.
English is an important language to learn because of the number of English speakers in the world as well as its prevalence in the education, science, business, and political sectors. However, it can also be a difficult language to learn because of the many rules of pronunciation.
Depending on what your first language is, you might find it hard to pronounce certain common English words. Learning how to properly pronounce certain words might even be more difficult than learning their meaning!
The good thing is, when it comes to the proper pronunciation of English words, practice makes perfect. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of confusingly pronounced words and some tips on how to pronounce them.
Ready to learn? Well, take a look. These are some of the most commonly mispronounced words in English.
How you might think it is pronounced: Pro-nun-SAY-shun
How is it really pronounced: Pro-NUN-see-ay-shun
Here’s a funny fact, one of the most commonly mispronounced words in English is actually “pronunciation”.
One reason that this particular word trips up new language learners is the number of syllables in it, five in all. Instead of a short “say” it’s actually a long “see” in the middle of the word.
How you might think it is pronounced: Dee-FIE-ant-lee/Def-IN-it-lee
How it is really pronounced: DEF-in-it-lee
If you just found now that you’ve been definitely been pronouncing “definitely” wrong, you are in good company. This is one of those words that are commonly mispronounced in English even by native speakers.
You use “definitely” to say that something is going to happen for sure. It is similar to saying that you or someone promise that it will happen.
I will definitely go to the party.
The client definitely said that the meeting will be happening at 4 PM.
How you might think it is pronounced: Eye-TIN-air-ee/Eye-TEN-ee-air-ee
How it is really pronounced: Eye-TIN-er-air-ee
An Itinerary is basically a plan or agenda. So, if you are planning a trip with a group of friends, you might make an itinerary that will enumerate the activities that you will be doing and maybe the times that these activities will occur.
6:00 AM Meet at McDonald’s
6:30 AM Have breakfast
7:00 AM Go to the neighboring bus station and catch the bus
7:30 AM ET Bus leaving
9:00 AM ETA Bus arrives at town
9:30 AM Check-in at Hostel
10:00 AM Go to the beach
An itinerary can also be made for official business activity, like a seminar or assembly. For example:
7:00 AM Registration
8:00 AM Breakfast
9:00 AM Opening remarks
9:30 AM First Speaker
How you might think it is pronounced: PUH-soo-doh-nim/SOO-doh-name
How it is really pronounced: SOO-doh-nim
With this word, what usually trips people up is the fact that the “p” is silent. You will actually run into a lot of words in English that have a silent “p”. This is one of the times where it is a good idea to have an online tutor who is a native English speaker. They can help you identify other common English words with a silent “p” and even more silent letter words.
A pseudonym is an alias or an alternative name that is used by “famous” people in lieu of their birth name. One excellent example of this is the author of the Harry Potter series, J. K. Rowling who was born Joanne Rowling. She actually has another pseudonym under which she writes adult crime stories, Robert Galbraith.
How you might think it is pronounced: LIE-bear-ee
How is it really pronounced: LIE-brair-ee
Some of the most commonly mispronounced words in English are those with the letter “r” in them. The word “library” is one such word. Many people, even native speakers sometimes forget that there are two “r’s” and may drop the first one. Don’t do that.
A “library” is a special building or room where books and other written material are stored. People can go to the library to read the materials there or to borrow them.
How you might think it is pronounced: WED-nez-day
How is it really pronounced: WENZ-day
It is important to know the days and the months of the year in English in order to talk about dates and make appointments and draw up itineraries.” Wednesday” is the third weekday and the middle of the workweek.
“Wednesday”, however, is also one of those English words that are used a lot but also mispronounced a lot. You should practice the proper pronunciation of this word to prevent any confusion.
How you might think it is pronounced: SUB-tell
How it is really pronounced: SUH-tell
This is another example of a commonly mispronounced word in English where the reason for the confusion is a silent letter. In this case, it is a silent “b”.
When someone or something is being “subtle” they are not obvious. So for example, if you watch English movies, some themes or lessons may be subtle or conveyed through metaphors or symbols rather than dialogue.
You can also say someone is being subtle if they are being quiet or even secretive in their actions. For example, if Harry has a crush on Sally and hasn’t said anything BUT is always bringing her favorite chips to study sessions, he is being subtle about his feelings.
How you might think it is pronounced: DEH-brees/DUH-brees
How it is really pronounced: DEI-bree
This is another example of how a silent letter can completely change the “obvious” pronunciation of a word. In this case, “debris” has a silent “s”, so you need to drop that if you want to pronounce it correctly.
How you might think it is pronounced: Axe
How it is really pronounced: Ah-sk
This is a simple word to spell or write, but a word that many non-native speakers might stumble over when they have to say out loud. You might think a word this short is actually one syllable, but it is actually two syllables with a long “a” or “ah” sound.
Ask is a verb that means that you are questioning someone.
I need to ask the teacher about the assignment
Sally asked me if Harry was single.
How you might think it is pronounced: eh-tuh-LEET/eh-tleet
How it is really pronounced: ATH-leet
The confusion here stems from how to pronounce the “th” that is found at the beginning of the word “athlete”.
An athlete is an elite sportsperson or someone who participates in a sports competition.
How you might think it is pronounced: eh-PI-tohme
How it is really pronounced: uh-PI-tuh-mee
There are two reasons why this word might trip up English language learners. First, it has a lot of syllables, four to be exact. Second, the “e” at the start is actually pronounced “uh” instead of “eh”.
Epitome is a noun that means something that is the perfect example of an idea. It can also be used to say that someone exemplifies a particular quality.
She was the epitome of style and grace.
How you might think it is pronounced: STOH-mahk/STOH-match
How it is really pronounced: STUM-ick
Here’s a tip on how to properly pronounce this word, basically, pronounce the “ach” as “ick”.
The stomach is an essential body part, so it’s probably a good idea to know how to pronounce this. It’s especially important because the pain in the stomach is a sign of sickness or injury, so you should be able to tell people that “my stomach hurts”.
How you might think it is pronounced: KUH-len-duh
How it is really pronounced: KA-luhn-duh
When you pronounce the word “calendar” you need to start out with a short and sharp “KA” sound, rather than a softer “KUH”.
How you might think it is pronounced: in-vie-TEI-shun
How it is really pronounced: in-vuh-TEI-shun
The confusion here comes from how to pronounce the “v” sound in the middle. You should pronounce the second syllable as “vuh” not “vie”.
An invitation is basically something you extend if you want someone to attend an event.
How you might think it is pronounced: BUH-ree
How it is really pronounced: BARE-ee
This is another English word that looks simple but can trip up English language learners. While the spelling might have you think there should be a “buh” sound at the start but it is actually a “bare”.
This is a verb that is used to say that something has been placed or hidden underneath something else. This is usually used to refer to placing something in the ground and covering it up, such as “bury the body”.
How you might think it is pronounced: AI-suhl/EI-suhl
How it is really pronounced: ile
One of the most common reasons that English words are mispronounced is because many English words are not pronounced phonetically. When we say that a word is phonetically pronounced, we mean that it is spelled the way it sounds.
“Aisle” is a prime example of a non-phonetic English word. To pronounce it correctly, you don’t pronounce two letters aloud.
How you might think it is pronounced: MIS-chee-vee-yuhs
How it is really pronounced: MIS-chuh-vuhs
This word is an adjective that describes someone who likes to cause trouble because they think it is funny, not because they are malicious.
Two things to keep in mind to ensure you pronounce it correctly. First, the second syllable is a “chuh” not a “chee” and it ends with a “vuhs” not a “yuhs”.
How you might think it is pronounced: CON-grates
How it is really pronounced: KUHN-grats
This is one of the most common ways to say “congratulations” in English. You are going to want to make sure that you are pronouncing it correctly to make sure that the person you are congratulating understands precisely what you mean.
How you might think it is pronounced: MAH-yoh-nees/mei-yoh-NEES
How it is really pronounced: mei-uh-NEIZ
Do you like mayonnaise? Some people do, some people don’t. If you don’t, and you are dining out, you want to know how to say “hold the mayonnaise” or “no mayonnaise” to make sure they don’t add it to your food. You will also want to be sure that you are pronouncing it correctly, so take note of this.
How you might think it is pronounced: muh-NOO
How it is really pronounced: MEH-nyoo
Another important English word to know for when you dine out. The “menu” is basically a list of all the offerings in a dining establishment plus the prices.
How you might think it is pronounced: plum-BUH
How it is really pronounced: PLUH-muh
Another case of a common word in English is mispronounced because it has a silent letter. In this case, it’s a silent “b” so make sure you say “muh” at the end and not “buh”.
A plumber is basically a repairman who specializes in fixing plumbing, so toilets, faucets, sinks, etc. If you are going to be staying in a country where English is the major language and going to be renting a place of your own, you might find it handy to be able to call a plumber.
In order to ensure that you properly pronounce the words on this list, you need to practice saying them out loud.
To make it easier for you, we’ve provided a downloadable PDF file of the words, how they are often mispronounced, and how to properly pronounce them. You can print them out and study them at your leisure.
We also suggest that you take this list and study them with the help of an online native English-speaking language tutor. They can correct your pronunciation as necessary and also provide you with a deeper understanding of the meaning of the words and how and when to use them.
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