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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: 20 Most Difficult Words to Pronounce in English - American vs. British English - Common Mistakes

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Hello, and welcome back.

In this lesson, we will look at 20 of the most difficult words for English learners

to pronounce.

And Ill also teach you how to say them correctly.

For each word, listen to how I say it, then practice saying it after me.

So, if youre ready, lets jump into it.

The first word is this one.

How do you say it?

Well, the correct pronunciation iskwes.tʃən/.

The first syllable is made with a /k/ combined with a /w/ sound by rounding your lips - /kwes/.

The second syllable is /tʃən/ like your chin.

So the word iskwes.tʃən/.

Of course, the opposite of question is answer – /æn/, /sər/ - /ˈæn.sər/.

This is in American English.

In British English, its pronounced /ˈɑːn.sə/ with an /ɑː/ sound at the beginning: /ˈɑːn.sə/.

Number two isdidnt”.

I often hear two mispronunciations of this word from my students: if you saydɪdnt/

ordɪnt/ - theyre both wrong.

To say this word correctly, say /dɪd/ first - /ˈdɪd/.

Then add a /n/ sound at the end - /dɪdn/ - using your nose - /ˈdɪdn/.

And thats it.

Now, you can saydɪdnt/ with a /t/ at the end, but when we speak in full sentences,

we often leave out that /t/ sound.

For example: “didnt like”: “I didnt like the movie”.

Notice that thethas become silent.

Didnt speak”: “She didnt speak English.”

The next word isasked”.

This is the past tense ofask”.

The trick to saying it correctly is to make theksilent.

So, it sounds likest/ in American English and /ɑːst/ in British English, but in both,

we dont pronounce thek”.

He asked me a question.”

I asked her for money.”

Number four is these two words.

How do you say them?

The first iswʊ.mən/ - /wʊ/, /mən/ - /ˈwʊ.mən/.

And the second is /wɪ/, /mɪn/ - /ˈwɪ.mɪn/.

Woman, women.

One womanthree women.

Next up is the second month of the year.

The reason this word is tricky to pronounce is that people say it in a few different ways.

In British English, its commonlyə.ri/ - I know it sounds difficult,

but its not.

To say it correctly, you have to say /ru/, /ə/, /ri/ - /ru-ə-ri/ - /ru.ə.ri/.ə.ri/, /ˈə.ri/.

The American version is much easier: the firstris silent, sofɛb.jə.we.ri/.

/fɛb/, /jə/, /we/, /ri/ - /ˈfɛb.jə.we.ri/.

A quick note: in the pronunciation symbols on the screen, you see the letterj”,

but in the International Pronunciation Alphabet (or IPA), which Im using here, thej

represents aysound.

OK, its up to you to decide whether you want to use British or American pronunciation,

but once again, American isfɛb.jə.we.ri/, and Britishfeb.rur.i/.

Number six is this wordhow do you say it?

The correct pronunciation is /saɪˈkaɪ.ə.trɪst/.

It starts with /saɪ/ (thepis silent), the part in the middle is /kaɪ.ə/ - /kaɪ.ə/,

and the word ends with /trɪst/.

The stress is on the second syllable, so this word is /saɪˈkaɪ.ə.trɪst/, /saɪˈkaɪ.ə.trɪst/.

Next, we have another scientific word: /ˈlæb.rə.tɔː.rɪ/.

Thats the American pronunciation: /læb/, /rə/, /tɔː/, /rɪ/ - with the stress on

the first syllable - /ˈlæb.rə.tɔː.rɪ/.

The British version sounds quite different: /ləˈbɒ.rə.trɪ/.

Here, the second syllable is stressed - /bɒ/.

So, the word begins with a short /lə/, then we have /bɒ/, /rə/, /trɪ/.

So, /ləˈbɒ.rə.trɪ/.

Once again, American - /ˈlæb.rə.tɔː.rɪ/, British - /ləˈbɒ.rə.trɪ/.

Number eight is the set of these four words.

These are difficult for many English learners because each one is slightly different.

The first is easy; there are three syllables: /ˈfoʊ/, /tə/, /ɡræf/.

The stress is on the first syllable /foʊ/, sofoʊ.tə.ɡræf/.

The next two words are /fəˈtɑː.ɡrə.fər/ and /fəˈtɑː.ɡrə.fɪ/.

In these words, the stress is on the second syllable; it becomes a long /tɑː/.

And the other vowels become short, so - /fə/, /tɑː/, /ɡrə/, / fər/ - /fəˈtɑː.ɡrə.fər/.

And similarly, /fəˈtɑː.ɡrə.fɪ/.

The last word is /foʊ.təˈɡræ.fɪk/.

So, where is the stress?

The stress is on the third syllable - /ɡræ/: /foʊ.təˈɡræ.fɪk/.

One last time - /ˈfoʊ.tə.ɡræf/, /fəˈtɑː.ɡrə.fər/, /fəˈtɑː.ɡrə.fi/, /foʊ.təˈɡræ.fɪk/.

Number nine is another set of related words: analyze, analysis, and analytical.

As we saw in photograph, photographer etc., these words also have different stress patterns.

Analyzehas three syllables: /æ/, /nə/, /laɪz/, with the stress on the first syllable:


This is a verb, and it means to study something in order to understand it.

The noun, the name given to the act of analyzing something isanalysis”.

Here, we see four syllables: /ə/, /næ/, /lə/, /sɪs/, and the stress is on the second

syllable - /næ/ - /əˈnæ.lə.sɪs/ - /əˈnæ.lə.sɪs/.

The wordanalyticalhas five syllables: /æ/, /nə/, /lɪ/, /tɪ/, /kəl/ and the

stress is on the third - /lɪ/ - /æ.nəˈlɪ.tɪ.kəl/, /æ.nəˈlɪ.tɪ.kəl/.

This is an adjective; we might say that a person has an analytical mind, meaning that

he or she likes to examine or study things in detail.

OK, once again: /ˈæ.nə.laɪz/, /əˈnæ.lə.sɪs/, /æ.nəˈlɪ.tɪ.kəl/.

Number ten is entrepreneur.

This word refers to a person who starts his or her own business.

The spelling looks scary (lots of es and rs), but the pronunciation is actually

quite easy.

There are four syllables: the first is /ɑːn/.

The second and third syllables are similar: /trə/ and /prə/.

The last syllable is /nər/.

The stress is on this last syllable.

So, /ɑːn/, /trə/, /prə/, /nər/ - /ɑːn.trə.prəˈnər/, /ɑːn.trə.prəˈnər/.

Next, we have another business wordexecutive.

It refers to someone who has an important job in a company.

There are four syllables in this word: /ɪɡ/, /zek/, /jə/, /tɪv/.

Remember that the letterjrepresents aysound in phonetic symbols.

The stress is on the second syllable here - /zek/.

So, /ɪɡˈzek.jə.tɪv/, /ɪɡˈzek.jə.tɪv/.

Number twelve is a word thats again pronounced differently in American and British English.

How do you say this word?

In American English, this is pronouncedske.dʒuːl/ - /ske/, /dʒuːl/ - /ˈske.dʒuːl/.

The sound that you see in the middle /dʒ/ – the letterdalong with what looks

like the number threethats just thejsound.

The British pronunciation is /ˈʃed.juːl/.

ed/, /juːl/ - /ˈʃed.juːl/.

That first snake-like character /ʃ/ is theshsound.

So, American - /ˈskedʒ.uːl/, British - /ˈʃed.juːl/.

Number thirteen is the wordadjective”.

The sound that gives trouble to a lot of English learners is the combination of the letters


Many people struggle to say /ˈæd - dʒek.tɪv/.

But, the good news is that the letterdis actually silent here.

The word is just /æ/, /dʒek/, /tɪv/ - /ˈæ.dʒek.tɪv/.

By the way, how do you say this part of speech?

Its /pre.pəˈzɪ.ʃən/ - /pre/, /pə/, /zɪ/, /ʃən/.

Notice that thesis pronounced as a /z/ sound.

The stress is on the third syllable - /zɪ/: /pre.pəˈzɪ.ʃən/.

The next word ismiscellaneous”.

This is an adjective which refers to a mixed group of different kinds of things.

In the picture, you see a shop selling miscellaneous things.

I can talk about the miscellaneous items on my tablethere is a pencil, a pair of

scissors, a comb, an eraser, a fidget spinner.

Now, the spelling of this word looks confusing, but the pronunciation just has five syllables

- /mɪ/, /sə/, /leɪ/, /ni/, /əs/.

The stress is on the third syllable - /leɪ/.

The key to saying a big word like this correctly is to learn it in reverse, that is, from the


So, repeat after me: /əs/, /nis/, /leɪ/, /leɪ.nis/, /mɪ.sə/, /mɪ.səˈleɪ.nis/,

/mɪ.səˈleɪ.nis/ - did you get it right?

Alright, next is one more five-syllable wordsophisticated.

This is also an adjective, and it means complicated, developed, or advanced.

The five syllables are /sə/, /fɪs/, /tɪ/, /keɪ/, /təd/, and the stress is on the second

- /fɪs/.

Lets backchain this word, learn it in reverse: /təd/, /keɪ.təd/, /fɪs.tɪ/, /fɪs.tɪ.keɪ.təd/,

/səˈfɪs.tɪ.keɪ.təd/, /səˈfɪs.tɪ.keɪ.təd/ - see, its easy.

Number sixteen is this wordit means an unfair hatred towards a group of people because

of their race, gender, religion etc.

The problem with this word is that it doesnt sound exactly as it is spelled.

How would you say it?

The correct pronunciation ispre.dʒə.dɪs/ - there are three syllables: the first is

/pre/, the second is /dʒə/, and the last syllable is /dɪs/.

pre.dʒə.dɪs/, /ˈpre.dʒə.dɪs/.

Up next, we have two military terms that are often problematic for learners.

The first word is a title that refers to a mid-ranking officer.

It has two pronunciations: in American English, its pronounced /luːˈte.nənt/ - /luː/,

/te/, /nənt/.

The stress is on /te/ - /luːˈte.nənt/, /luːˈte.nənt/.

In British English, the word sounds a little different - /lefˈte.nənt/.

So, the first syllable, which is spelledlieuis pronounced /lef/.

I dont know why, but thats just how it is: /lefˈte.nənt/.

So, in American English, its /luːˈte.nənt/, and in British English, /lefˈte.nənt/.

The second military word is this oneits a title given to a high-ranking officer.

So, let me ask you once again: how would you say this word?

The right way to say it iskər.nəl/.

For some strange reason, thecolois pronounced /kər/, so this word iskər.nəl/.

Number nineteen is words with a doublec”.

That doublecacts likeks”.

So, we say /ˈæ, /ˈæk.sent/ - in both of these words, the stress is on the

first syllable.

In the next two words, the stress is on the second syllable: /səkˈses/.

Once again, /səkˈses/.

Similarly, /səkˈsɪŋkt/ - notice in the spelling of this word that there is an extra

cright at the end beforetso the second syllable here is /sɪŋkt/ with

a /k/ sound - /səkˈsɪŋkt/.

By the way, “succinctis an adjective and it means that something is said in a clear

way in just a few words.

For example, “His speech was succinct.”

And, if youve watched the whole video up to now, then this last word is for you: congratulations.

The tricky part is the letterstuin the middle.

They are pronounced /tʃə/.

The word has a total of five syllables - /kən/, /ɡræ/, /tʃə/, /leɪ/, /ʃənz/.

The stress is onleɪ/, so /kənræ.tʃəˈleɪ.ʃənz/, /kənræ.tʃəˈleɪ.ʃənz/.

Alright, before we close this lesson, lets do a quick recap of the twenty words we have

discussed: Questionkwes.tʃən/ Didn'tdɪdnt/ Askedst/ - thats American;

the British version is /ɑːst/ Womanwʊ.mən/, women - /ˈwɪ.mɪn/ Februaryfɛb.jə.we.ri/

- thats American; in British pronunciation, /ˈfeb.rur.i/ Psychiatrist /saɪˈkaɪ.ə.trɪst/

Laboratorylæb.rə.tɔː.rɪ/ - thats American; British is /ləˈbɒ.rə.trɪ/ Photograph

foʊ.tə.ɡræf/, photographer /fəˈtɑː.ɡrə.fər/, photography /fəˈtɑː.ɡrə.fi/, photographic

/foʊ.təˈɡræ.fɪk/ Analyze /ˈæ.nə.laɪz/, analysis /əˈnæ.lə.sɪs/, analytical /æ.nəˈlɪ.tɪ.kəl/

Entrepreneur /ɑːn.trə.prəˈnər/ Executive /ɪɡˈzek.jə.tɪv/ Scheduleske.dʒuːl/

- thats the American pronunciation; British is /ˈʃed.juːl/ Adjective /ˈæ.dʒek.tɪv/

Miscellaneous /mɪ.səˈleɪ.nis/ Sophisticated /səˈfɪs.tɪ.keɪ.təd/ Prejudicepre.dʒə.dɪs/

Lieutenant /luːˈte.nənt/ (thats American); the British pronunciation is /lefˈte.nənt/

Colonelkər.nəl/ Access /ˈæ, accent /ˈæk.sent/, success /səkˈses/,

succinct /səkˈsɪŋkt/ Congratulations /kənræ.tʃəˈleɪ.ʃənz/ Alright, I hope you enjoyed this lesson.

As always, happy learning, and I will see you in another lesson soon.

The Description of 20 Most Difficult Words to Pronounce in English - American vs. British English - Common Mistakes