15 English words you’re mispronouncing! Common Pronunciation mistakes with difficult English words.

Hey English learners, welcome back to Let’s Talk , your ultimate resource for free English lessons online. In today’s spoken English lesson withMichelle, you will learn about 15 English words you are probably mispronouncing. These English words are often mispronounced by English learners, and are common pronunciation mistakes even made by native English speakers. So this lesson would help you improve your English pronunciation and understand some advanced English vocabulary with example English sentences used in daily English conversation. Sit back and watch the complete lesson as Michelle uncovers some useful pronunciation rules, practice them to speak English fluently and confidently.

Chaos-pronounced as kay+OS
It means complete disorder or confusion.
Eg: When there is no teacher, the class is mostly in chaos.

Chaotic- pronounced as kay+AW+tic
This is the adjective used to describe chaos or complete confusion
Eg: I hate to be in a chaotic environment

Debris-Pronounced as De+BREE
This word is used to refer to scattered pieces of waste or rubbish
Eg: After the earthquake, the debris had to be cleared.

Subtle-Pronounced as SUH+TL
This words is used to describe something that is not too obvious, not too noticeable
Eg: That colour is very subtle against the dark background

Success-Pronounced as Suk+SESS
This word means that you have gained victory or you are a winner
Eg: We need careful planning to make this business a success

Circumstance-pronounced as SIR+kum+stans
This word is used to describe a fact or a condition that is connected with some event or action
Eg:He would have married at the age of 25, however, circumstances didn’t permit 

Content-pronounced as KAWN+tent if it is a noun (To describe what a thing contains)
EG:The contents in the bag seem to be heavy
Pronounced as kun+TENT if it is an adjective (to describe that someone is happy or satisfied)
EG: The dog slept with a content look on its face.

Epitome-Pronounced as Eh+PIT+uh+mee
This word is used to describe something or someone who is the perfect example or the best standard for something
Eg: Harry is the epitome of hard work and dedication

Hierarchy-Pronounced as HIER+aakee

Used to describe a system where members are ranked according to status or authority
Eg: The Pope is the head of the hierarchy within the Church.

Paradigm-Pronounced as PA+ruh+DIME
Used to describe an pattern or example of something
Eg: The society’s paradigm about the “ideal woman” is not realistic

Gauge-pronounced as GAY-j
This word means to estimate or determine something
Eg: The interviewer will gauge my English speaking skills, I have to do well!

Segue-Pronounced as SEG+way
This word is used to describe an uninterrupted transition from one piece of information to the other
Eg: The presenter’s segue was smooth and subtle

Refrigerator-pronounced as re+FRIG+a+raytr
This is the home appliance where food and drink is stored for cooling purposes
Eg: The refrigerator needs maintenance

Differentiate-pronounced as di+fuh+REN+shee+ate
The act of recognizing the  difference
Eg: Can you differentiate between these two theories?

Entrepreneur-Pronounced as on+truh+pren-er
This means businessman
Eg:He is a successful entrepreneur

Archaeological-pronounced as AA-keea-LAW-gical
This word related to the subject of archaeology, ancient history
Eg:There is not enough archaeological evidence about evolution

Complete Lesson Transcript –

Hi guys, welcome to the lesson. You’re watching me on Let’s Talk, my name is Michelle. Okay, tell me how do you pronounce this word? Should it be success or success? Are you confused between the correct pronunciations? Well like this we have many other words in English which really confuse us about their pronunciation and sometimes we think we are speaking the right thing but only a very fluent speaker of English can understand that what we are saying is actually wrong. So if you want to make your pronunciation just perfect and up to the mark then watch this complete lesson with me today, where I am going to talk about words which have a confusing pronunciation. So are you ready? Then let’s get started.

Okay, so we have these words with us. Some of these are very common words and the other words are advanced vocabulary words. So in this lesson today you are not just learning pronunciation, you are also learning advanced vocabulary and words with their meanings and examples. So keep watching.

Let’s start with the first one chaos. Okay so first of all let’s find out what’s the meaning of this word. Chaos means a lot of confusion. Okay so what will happen if all the animals in a zoo escape? That’s a lot of chaos, a lot of confusion or think about yourself in school, when the bell rings when the day is over all the students gush out of the class and you have a lot of chaos which means there is no order and there is a lot of confusion. So this is what you mean by chaos. Now let’s find out how do we pronounce this word? Okay KAY-oss, so as you can see that I have written a part of the word in bold letters which is KAY. The reason I have done this is because you stress this part of the word more than this part. So you don’t you don’t say chaos, you say chaos. Please repeat it after me, chaos. Yes and just to help you a little bit more sometimes the stress in the word changes. For example let’s look at this word chaotic. You could say that this is a very chaotic school, which is an adjective. Okay so chaotic is pronounced in a different way. Let me write it for you. Okay so as you can see that there are different letters here which are written in caps lock and those are OT. So you will say this as chaotic, chaotic. So what’s happening is, the stress in the word, is changing from the first syllable to the second syllable.

Okay like this we have many other words in English where the stress changes when the word changes. Okay, now let’s look at the next one. The next word is debris. Yes you heard me right here S is silent but before we go on to the pronunciation, let’s find out what this word means. So debris is basically the remains after a construction or after an earthquake or after a disaster. So for example if there is an earthquake in a city what you will find is a lot of broken material. That broken material which is of no use is called debris, the remaining material. Or you will see that at a construction site when a building is built, the remaining material which is of no use is called debris. So this is the word for you and how would you use this in a sentence? You could say that I could see debris after the earthquake which means you could see the remains. All right now coming on to the pronunciation as I told you that S is silent in this word, so we would pronounce it as. So as you can see that the second part of the word is stressed and the first part is not. So listen to me very carefully. If I stress the first part, the word becomes debris, alright but if I stress the second part the word becomes debris which is the correct pronunciation of this word.

Okay now with this we move forward. The next word we have is subtle. Okay, now you’ve already guessed that there is one letter in the word which is silent and that is B. Okay now to find out the meaning of this word, subtle means something which is very faint. I mean something which you cannot notice. So you if you see a person who is smiling just a little bit, you can’t notice you’re not sure it looks like they’re smiling. So you could say that, oh she had a subtle smile on her face which means faint or something which is not fully visible. Okay, so this is what subtle means, something which is very less and very difficult to notice. Okay now if you want to pronounce this, okay you would pronounce it as. So this word also has two parts and here the first part is stressed. So the word is not subtle, the word is subtle and the word is also not subtle, which a lot of English speakers tend to pronounce, learners actually who are learning the language. So you would say subtle.

Okay, all right now with this we move forward and look at the next very common word. We all know the meaning of success right? Success means achievement, when you achieve something in life or when you get something good in your life. So you could say that she is very successful for her age or you could say that this is a lot of success for this age, which means too much success, right? So now we look at the pronunciation of this word more carefully. This word has two parts, okay and we would pronounce it as, right. So I started my lesson with this, I said is it success or success? Now can you guess it? As you can see that the second part of the word is stressed so the word is pronounced as success and not success. Alright so the next time you say this word, say it as success.

Okay now with this, we look at the next one which is a slightly bigger word and might even scare you because you might think how to pronounce this word? Well just to tell you even if it’s a big word or a small word, only one part of the word stressed okay. Definitely, this word has more parts than this word but only one part will be stressed. I’ll tell you how. First, let’s find out the meaning of this word this word is called as circumstance and circumstance means someone’s situation. Okay so you could say that we both wanted to marry but the circumstances did not allow which means the situation did not allow you to get married to someone. All right that’s what we mean by this word. A lot of English learners tend to call it circumchance which is wrong. We don’t have any CH in the world. We only have S. So the word is actually circumstance and not circumchance. Okay now when we talk about the pronunciation in more detail, this word is actually pronounced as. So as you can see that all these words have two parts to them. Okay one two, one two, one two, one two, except the one, which has three parts. The same way circumstance has three parts to it and in these three parts, the stressed part is the first part. So you say circumstance, okay repeat it after me circumstance, wonderful you’ve got it right.

Okay now with this, we move to the next word. Now this word is a very peculiar and a very confusing word because you will often hear two pronunciations for this word because it has two different meanings. So when we talk about the meaning, when you call this as content that is a noun which means, what is something made up of. Okay like the chapters in a book are called the content. So you would say, what is the content of this book? which means which are the chapters of this book or else you can pronounce this word as content. Okay now when you say content, it means satisfied. Okay so if you say that I am content with my life which means you are satisfied with your life. Okay and if you want to ask that to somebody, you would say are you content with your life? Okay now, let’s look at the pronunciation more carefully. So as I told you, it can be pronounced in two different ways. Either it can be content or okay. Now since you are so smart, I know that you have already grasped it, that in this word, in the two different pronunciations, the word stress changes and that’s why they are pronounced in a different way. So in the first word, we stress on the first part, and we say content, okay and in the second one, we stress on the second part and that’s why we say content because the first part becomes much softer, good, so content and content, wonderful.

Now let’s move to the next word. This is a very useful word in English. It’s pronounced as epitome. Okay epitome, this means a perfect example. So if you want to tell that somebody is a perfect example of something, you would use this word. So you could say that Mother Teresa is an epitome of generosity or kindness. Okay now, let’s look carefully at its pronunciation. This word is pronounced as eh-pi-to-me. Okay, so in this word, we have four syllables, like in circumstance we have three in this one we have four and here the stressed part is the second syllable. Okay and it’s pronounced as eh-pi-to-me, all right epitome and to remember this better, you could just remember to me that this word has to me in the end and it’s almost pronounced like to me. Okay so eh-pi-to-me me for you which means a perfect example, great.

Now we have the next word. This word is called as hierarchy so this word is often used in organizations and companies. So if you are in your company and obviously you will have different positions, like you will have positions from the salesperson, right to the manager and from the manager to the CEO. So this order of people from the lowest to the highest in a company or in an organization is called hierarchy. Okay, and if you want to use it in a sentence, you could say that I have been promoted to a new position and that’s a part of the corporate hierarchy, which means you move from one position to the next position alright. Now when we look at this word’s pronunciation it’s really easy to remember. Let me tell you why you have a special word in this. So this is how this word is pronounced. You stress here on the first syllable and like epitome, this also has four parts, okay and you stress on the first part and the first part is hi. Yes, so that’s how you start this word you don’t have to call it herarchy because you might think HI might be you know he which it is not. It’s actually hi so hi-er-ar-kee, hierarchy.
Okay, now we look at the next word which is also a very important word in English. It’s called as what do you think it’s called as? Do you want to give it a try? Okay, this looks like para, right it looks like para to me as well. Now what about the second part, what does this look like is it digim, dim or dime, well this part is dime and this word is actually pronounced as paradigm. Okay now, what does this word mean? So paradigm basically means a model, a model for something. So you could say that Microsoft is the paradigm for future computer software, which means it’s the correct model for computer software in the future right. So that’s how you would use it if you want to use it in a sentence. Now if we talk about the pronunciation, let’s look at it. So this is how this word is pronounced, the stressed part is the first part of the word, which is pah, okay so you say paradigm. So when you say the first part, there is air coming out of your mouth and you put in more energy when you say the first part. So PARA-dime, d-i-m-e, dime, like you say dice, that’s the same way you say dime, dime or dice. So that’s a good way to remember this one right? You can remember it from dice.

Okay now that we are already talking about games, let’s also talk about gauge. Okay, so the way we pronounce game is the same way we pronounce this word which is gauge. Let me just write how we pronounce this. So like you say game, that’s how you say gauge. Now the interesting part about this word is, it has only one part that’s why the entire word is in caps lock. It has not got any more parts and there is no tension about where to stress, where not to stress. So you would simply say, gauge the same way you say game. Okay, so what do we mean by gauge? Gauge means to guess. Okay so G for gauge, g for guess. Wow, it’s really easy to remember this one. So when you’re trying to guess something, you’re trying to gauge something. For example, it’s really easy to gauge people’s character by their actions, which means it’s easy to understand or guess about their character through their actions. So this is gauge for you.

Now let’s look at the next word which looks very strange to me. Does it look strange to you? Well like how would you pronounce this? it’s got G, it’s got U, seeg, segu? Well, it should be segu, but since I did not create English, so it’s not segu. It’s actually pronounced as se-gway. So in this word, the first part is stressed. This word is actually SE-gway. Okay, SE-gway. So you stress on the first part and you say, SE-gway. Now you must be like okay I got the pronunciation but what’s the meaning? So segue is basically a transition. Okay, when you move from one part to the other part smoothly that’s called segue and it’s a verb. So it could also be segued. So let me give you an example, you could say that after the presentation she segued into the closing ceremony, which means she moved into the closing ceremony. So a transition or movement from one part to another part.

All right now the next one is a very common word. We all know what a refrigerator is where we keep the items to stay cool in summers, okay but the pronunciation is kind of peculiar and very confusing to a lot of learners. So let me write it for you here. Sorry, okay so let’s just look at this carefully. The first part is not pronounced as re, it’s not refrigerator. You would say refrigerator. Okay now, this word has five syllables. It has five parts, so this is the maximum we have touched so far. We’ve seen two, three, four and now this is a word with five parts and here the second part is stressed, that’s why it’s written in caps lock. So you will say refrigerator, please repeat it after me and when you try to say the F make sure you bite your lower lip with your upper teeth. Refrigerator okay refrigerator. Well, I think you’re really smart.

Okay, now we’ll look at the next word, which is differentiate. So if you have been into academics or studies, you must be having a question in your exams or in your classes, differentiate between this and this which means tell the difference. So to differentiate means to tell the difference, like differentiate between the past and the present. So tell the differences between these two. Now talking about the pronunciation, this word is actually pronounced as di-fu-REN-shee-eyt, okay. So as you can see, this word also is a five-syllable word like refrigerator and here we don’t stress on the second syllable, we stress on the third syllable. So the word actually becomes differentiate. Yes many of us call it as differentiate or differentiate but the word is actually differentiate. Okay so the stresses on REN okay.

So this is how you pronounce this word. Now with this too, we move forward to another common business word and it’s a huge confusion to pronounce this word. This word is actually pronounced as entrepreneur. This means a person who is heading a business or who has started a business. Okay, a person at a higher position in the business who’s running it. So the person who is running the business is called an entrepreneur. Let’s look at the pronunciation of this word. Okay so in this word again we have four syllables and not five and in this word, the stressed syllable is the last part of the word. Okay, the final part. It’s, just repeat these parts after me, ahn-truh-pruh-nior. So the stress is on the last part. Let’s do it again, ahn-trh-prh-nior, so it’s entrepreneur and if you want to use it in a sentence you could say that the entrepreneurs saw this as a potential market, great.

Now we have the last word for history students because I love history so I decided to pick a word from history, archaeological, something which comes from history or dates back to a very long time like fossils. You know things for which you have a proof now. Those were those things are called archaeological. Now how do we pronounce this? Let’s see that, so our remains ar remains ar, kee uh Lodge ih- cal. Wow and this is our final word with the maximum number of syllables and when you learn this word, you should make sure that you’re a good speaker of English if you can pronounce this right because this has got six syllables. So it goes ar-kee-uh-Log-ical, okay it’s not arke, many of us say K but it’s actually kee, it’s Archaeological. So the catch here is that this word is stressed on lOG. Okay so the next time you say it you’ll not say archaeological, you say archaeological. Okay please repeat that after me, archaeological. Okay now that you’ve got it right, you are a fluent speaker of English because you are pronouncing a word with six syllables absolutely correctly.

So thank you so much for watching this lesson with me. I hope today you have clearly understood the correct pronunciation for some difficult English words. So thank you so much for staying with me I’ll see you guys soon bye.

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