Commonly mispronounced English words: let’s get them right!

Welcome back, learners!

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you said a word, and the person across from you had a puzzled look on their face? 

We’ve all been there! Pronunciation plays a huge role in ensuring we’re understood. After all, English can be a tricky language, with its silent letters, various accents, and words that just don’t sound the way they look.

So, why is getting pronunciation right so essential? 

Well, for starters, accurate pronunciation ensures our message comes across clearly. Imagine ordering a “sheet” of paper and accidentally pronouncing it… well, you get the idea! Proper pronunciation can save us from such awkward situations and make our conversations flow smoothly!

But here’s a fun fact: Some words are so commonly mispronounced that these “incorrect” versions have become the norm in casual chats.While these commonly accepted mispronunciations might give the language its unique flavor, it’s still good to know the “right” way to say things.

Ready to embark on this pronunciation journey? Let’s go!

1. Wednesday 

Common Mispronunciation: Here in Indonesia, many of us end up saying “WED-nes-day.”

Correct Pronunciation: The proper way to pronounce it is “WED-nz-day.”

Example sentence: I have a meeting scheduled for Wednesday morning, so I’ll need to prepare for it the night before.

2. Clothes

Common Mispronunciation: It’s common to hear people say “Clo-th-es” when they refer to apparel.

Correct Pronunciation: The right way to say it is “Klohz.” 

Example sentence: I bought some new clothes for the upcoming holiday. I Can’t wait to show them off!

3. Island 

Common Mispronunciation: It’s common to hear people say “is-land” with a pronounced “s”

Correct Pronunciation: The right way to say it is “I-land” (the “s” should be silent/not pronounced).

Example sentence: The island we visited last summer was absolutely breathtaking, with its pristine beaches and lush forests.

4. Recipe

Common Mispronunciation: It’s not unusual to hear folks say “re-sipe”

Correct Pronunciation: The right way to pronounce it is “Reh-si-pee”

Example sentence: I tried a new recipe for apple pie yesterday, and it was a hit with the family!

5. Hidden 

Common Mispronunciation: Especially among social media circles, it’s common to hear “hay-den” like in the phrase “hayden gem” on TikTok.

Correct Pronunciation: The accurate way to pronounce it is “HID-den”.

Example sentence: While exploring the countryside, we came across a hidden gem of a restaurant serving the most authentic local dishes.

6. Subtle

Common Mispronunciation: Sometimes, when discussing things that aren’t immediately obvious, folks might pronounce the “b” in “subtle.”

Correct Pronunciation: The accurate way to pronounce it is “SUH-tl” with a silent “b”

Example sentence: I noticed a subtle change in his behavior after the trip.

7. Often

While diving into conversations, you might catch wind of two variations: some articulate the “t” in “often,” while others choose to glide past it.

Correct Pronunciation: Both versions have their place! You can say “OF-ten” with the “t” or “OF-en” without it!

or “OF-en” without it!

Example sentence: They often bake cookies together on weekends.

8. Queue 

Common Mispronunciation: This word might look tricky and intimidating. Many people say it like “Que-ue”

Correct Pronunciation: It’s simpler than it looks! Just say “kyoo”

Example sentence: The movie was so popular that there was a long queue outside the theater.

9. Choir 

Common Mispronunciation: Let’s be honest, “choir” is one of those words that doesn’t sound at all like it looks. You might hear folks trying “cho-ire” or even “chore.”

Correct Pronunciation: It’s actually quite simple! It’s pronounced “quire”

Example sentence: She joined the school choir and practices every Wednesday.

10. Thorough

Common Mispronunciation: Another rather confusing word!Many people think that it’s pronounced like “Thor-ough”.

Correct Pronunciation: Here’s a tip to make it simpler: think of it as “THUR-ow”. 

Example sentence: She gave a thorough review of the document before submitting it.


There you have it! English, with its quirks and idiosyncrasies, can sometimes feel like a roller coaster of sounds and spellings. But remember, every language has its unique challenges, and the fun lies in mastering them bit by bit!

Whether it’s the silent ‘b’ in “subtle” or the tricky “queue,” we hope this guide has shed some light on those words that have had many of us scratching our heads. And the next time you’re in a conversation, you can confidently sprinkle in these words, knowing you’ve mastered their pronunciation!

Stay curious and keep practicing!

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IELC Academic Director