I hate to break it to you, but if you’re a native speaker of English and you mispronounce words, you just don’t sound … smart. Sorry!
Non-native English speakers should always get a free pass! If you have any intention of fighting me on this one, I’m ready to swing! Do you know how hard it is to learn another language, master all its nuances, and assimilate the phonetics? I do! (It took years and years of studying to develop the fluency required to write my bilingual personalized children’s books.) And I say don’t judge.
Back to my native English-speaking friends … if you snoozed through a fair number of English classes, we are going to hold you accountable. Just in case you really did sleep, we decided not to use phonetic spelling in the examples that follow; so all you have to do is sound out the syllables.
Without further ado, below are ten words that you need to learn to pronounce properly before you open your mouth again!
For my sake, please work on this one, people! When I hear anyways, it’s like fingernails on a chalkboard for me.
Definition: in any case
EH – nee – ways
EH – nee – way
Listening to my web developer (James Stone) talk, I realized that I was pronouncing cache wrong. Maybe I confused it with the store I used to see in the mall (Caché). Or maybe I just love the hint of perfume that wafts through the air when I open a sachet-filled drawer and thought the words should rhyme. Whatever the reason was, learn from my mistake and you won’t be embarrassed when talking with your IT team.
- a hiding place (especially for concealing provisions or implements)
- items hidden in a cache
- computer memory with very short access time
ka – SHAY
OMGosh! My whole life I have pronounced this wrong! (And most likely, the hundreds of thousands of Packer fans have as well!) Please refer to the wrong pronunciation to see how we Midwesterners say caramel.
Definition: a substance made by heating sugar, which is used to color and flavor food and beverages; also a candy
KARR – mul
KARR – uh – mul
KARR – uh – mel
Startups, take note. You won’t get funded if you get this one wrong!
Definition: the person in charge of financial accounts at a company or organization.
comp – TROHL – ur
kuhn – TROHL – ur
Want to sound smarter than the television broadcasters? Pronounce electoral correctly. Most of the onscreen journalists and reporters who I heard during the last election got it wrong.
Definition: of or relating to an elector or election
eh – leck – TOR – uhl
eh – LECK – tor – uhl
If you are guilty of mispronouncing this one, try to remember that es does not equal ex. Remember this one tip and apply it to multiple words to sound so much smarter! 🙂
Definition: (there are many, but here are some of the most-used)
- to get away or break away from
- to stay out of the way of
- to issue from confinement
ex – CAYP
i – SKAYP
- in particular or for a particular purpose
- used to place emphasis
ex – SPESH – lee
ex – SPEH – shall – lee
eh – SPEH – shall – lee
I added this one to the list, and I don’t even eat these! (I’m a vegetarian.)
Definition: a sandwich made with beef or lamb, usually served on pita
HEER – roh
GEYE – roh
YEER – roh
ZHIHR – oh
Guilty as charged; if I’m not careful, the wrong pronunciation of prerogative slips out. (The same thing happens with prescription if I don’t think before I speak.)
Definition: an exclusive right, power, or privilege
pur – RAH – gah – tiv
pri – RAH – geh -tive
10. Vice versa
This one usually seems to be an afterthought ( … or vice versa). Memorize this one so you can confidently tack this one on to a sentence.
Definition: with the order changed or relations reversed; conversely
VYS – ah – VERS – sah
vys – VERS – sah
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Definitions of the words in our list are courtesy of Merriam-Webster. While the Cambridge, Collins, MacMillan, and Oxford dictionaries are great choices as well, we went with Merriam-Webster.
Why Merriam-Webster? With humor and a Twitter account, this company found a way to make word nerds not just relevant, but cool!
The most well-known example relates to an interview with Ivanka Trump, when she claimed to not know the definition of complicit. Fortunately, Merriam-Webster was able to provide that definition. 😉
And if you thought the Ivanka trolling was funny, here’s more, courtesy of Time.