50 Incorrect Pronunciations That You Should Avoid

By Maeve Maddox

Fred Astaire drew laughs back in the Thirties with his song “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” in which the lovers can’t agree on the pronunciation of words like either, neither, and tomato.

incorrect pronunciations

On a personal level, I cringe when I hear someone sound the “t” in often or pronounce pecan with a short “a,” but I have to acknowledge that both these pronunciations are widely accepted alternate pronunciations that can be justified by the spelling.

Alternate pronunciations, however, are a different matter from out-and-out mispronunciations. The latter, no matter how common, are incorrect, either because of the spelling that indicates another pronunciation, or because of what is widely agreed upon to be conventional usage. Word of caution: I’m writing from an American perspective.

Here are 50 frequently mispronounced words. The list is by no means exhaustive, but provides a good start.

1. aegis – The ae in this word is pronounced /ee/. Say EE-JIS/, not /ay-jis/. In mythology the “aegis” is associated especially with the goddess Athene. It is her shield with the Gorgon’s head on it.

2. anyway – The problem with this word is not so much pronunciation as the addition of an unnecessary sound. Don’t add an s to make it “anyways.” The word is ANYWAY.

3. archipelago – Because the word is from Greek, the ch is pronounced with a /k/ sound. Say /AR-KI-PEL-A-GO/, not /arch-i-pel-a-go/.

4. arctic – Note the C after the R. Say /ARK-TIK/, not /ar-tik/.

5. accessory – the first C has a “hard” sound. Say /AK-SESS-OR-Y/, not /ass-ess-or-y/.

6. ask – The S comes before the K. Say /ASK/ not /aks/.

7. asterisk – Notice the second S. Say /AS-TER-ISK/, not /as-ter-ik/.

8. athlete – The word has two syllables, not three. Say /ATH-LETE/, not /ath-uh-lete/.

9. barbed wire– Notice the AR in the first syllable. Say /BARBD/, not /bob/.

10. cache – The word is of French origin, but it does not end with an accented syllable. A cache is a hiding place or something that is being hidden: a cache of supplies; a cache of money; a cache of drugs. Say /KASH/, not /ka-shay/.

11. candidate – Notice the first d. Say /KAN-DI-DATE/, not /kan-i-date/.

12. cavalry – This word refers to troops that fight on horseback. Say /KAV-UL-RY/, not /kal-vuh-ry/. NOTE: Calvary refers the place where Jesus was crucified and IS pronounced /kal-vuh-ry/.)

13. chaos – The spelling ch can represent three different sounds in English: /tch/ as in church, /k/ as in Christmas, and /sh/ as in chef. The first sound is heard in words of English origin and is the most common. The second sound of ch, /k/, is heard in words of Greek origin. The third and least common of the three ch sounds is heard in words adopted from modern French. Chaos is a Greek word. Say /KAY-OS/, not /tchay-os/.

14. clothes – Notice the TH spelling and sound. Say /KLOTHZ/, not /kloz/.

15. daïs – A daïs is a raised platform. The pronunciation fault is to reverse the vowel sounds. The word is often misspelled as well as mispronounced. Say /DAY-IS/ not /dī-is/.

16. dilate – The word has two syllables, not three. Say /DI-LATE/, not /di-a-late/.

17. drowned – This is the past participle form of the verb drown. Notice that there is no D on drown. Don’t add one when using the word in its past form. Say /DROWND/, not /drown-ded/.

18. et cetera – This Latin term is often mispronounced and its abbreviation is frequently misspelled. Say /ET CET-ER-A/, not /ex cet-er-a/. For the abbreviation, write ETC., not ect.

19. February – Just about everyone I know drops the first r in February. The spelling calls for /FEB-ROO-AR-Y/, not /feb-u-ar-y/.

20. foliage – The word has three syllables. Say /FO-LI-UJ/, not /fol-uj/.

21. forte – English has two words spelled this way. One comes from Italian and the other from French. The Italian word, a musical term meaning “loud,” is pronounced with two syllables: /FOR-TAY/. The French word, an adjective meaning “strength” or “strong point,” is pronounced with one syllable: /FORT/.

22. Halloween – The word for the holiday Americans celebrate with such enthusiasm on October 31 derives from “Hallowed Evening,” meaning “evening that has been made holy.” The word “hallow” comes from Old English halig, meaning “holy.” Notice the a in the first syllable and say /HAL-O-WEEN/, not /hol-lo-ween/.

23. height – The word ends in a /T/ sound, not a /TH/ sound. Say /HITE/, not /hith/.

24. heinous – People unfamiliar with the TV show Law and Order: S.V.U. may not know that heinous has two syllables. (The show begins with this sentence: “In the criminal justice system, sexually based offenses are considered especially heinous.”) Say /HAY-NUS/, not /heen-i-us/.

25. hierarchy – The word has four syllables. Say /HI -ER-AR-KY,/ not /hi-ar-ky/.

26. Illinois – As with Arkansas, the final “s” in Illinois is not pronounced. Say /IL-I-NOY/ (and /Ar-kan-saw/, not /il-li-noiz/ or /ar-kan-sas/). NOTE: Some unknowledgeable folks may still be trying to pronounce Arkansas as if it had something to do with Kansas. The pronunciation /ar-kan-zuz/ is waaay off base.

27. interpret – The word has three syllables. Don’t add one! Say /IN-TER-PRET/, not /in-ter-pre-tate/.

28. incident – Something that happens is an “incident.” Don’t say “incidence” when you mean a specific event. There IS a word “incidence,” but it has a different meaning.

29. “irregardless” – See the real word, regardless.

30. jewelry – The word has three syllables. Say /JEW-EL-RY/, not /jew-el-er-y/. The pronunciation /jewl-ry/ is common but not correct, as it removes one syllable from the word.

31. library – Notice where the R comes in the word. Say /LI-BRAR-Y/, not /li-ber-ry/.

32. medieval – The word has four syllables. The first E may be pronounced either short [med] or long [meed]. Say /MED-EE-EEVAL/ or /MEE-DEE-EEVAL/, not /meed-eval/.

33. miniature – The word has four syllables. Say /MIN-I-A-TURE/, not /min-a-ture/.

34. Mischievous – This is the adjective form of mischief whose meaning is “calamity” or “harm.” Mischievous is now associated with harmless fun so that the expression “malicious mischief” has been coined as another term for vandalism. Mischievous has three syllables with the accent on the first syllable: /MIS-CHI-VUS/. Don’t say /mis-chee-vee-us/.

35. niche – The word is from the French and, though many words of French origin have been anglicized in standard usage, this is one that cries out to retain a long “e” sound and a /SH/ sound for the che. Say /NEESH/, not /nitch/.

36. orient – This word has three syllables. As a verb it means to place something in its proper position in relation to something else. It comes from a word meaning “east” and originally meant positioning something in relation to the east. Now it is used with a more general meaning. Say /OR-I-ENT/, not /or-i-en-tate/.

37. old-fashioned – This adjective is formed from a past-participle: “fashioned.” Don’t leave off the ED. Say /OLD-FASHIOND/, not /old-fashion/.

38. picture – There’s a K sound in picture. Don’t confuse picture with pitcher. Say /PIK-TURE/, not /pitch-er/. Pitcher is a different word. A pitcher is a serving vessel with a handle.

39. precipitation – This is a noun that refers to rain or snow, or anything else that normally falls from the sky. As with prescription (below), the prefix is PRE-. Say /PRE-CIP-I-TA-TION/, not /per-cip–i-ta-tion/.

40. prescription – Note the prefix PRE- in this word. Say /PRE-SCRIP-TION/, not /per- scrip-tion/ or /pro-scrip-tion/.

41. preventive – The word has three syllables. A common fault is to add a syllable. Say PRE-VEN-TIVE/, not /pre-ven-ta-tive.

42. pronunciation – This word is a noun. It comes from the verb pronounce, BUT it is not pronounced like the verb. Say /PRO-NUN-CI-A-TION/, not /pro-nounce-i-a-tion/.

43. prostate – This word for a male gland is often mispronounced. There is an adjective prostrate which means to be stretched out facedown on the ground. When speaking of the gland, however, say /PROS-TATE/, not /pros-trate/.

44. Realtor – The word has three syllables. Say /RE-AL-TOR/, not /re-a-la-tor/.

45. regardless – The word has three syllables. Please don’t add an IR to make it into the abomination “irregardless”.

46. sherbet – The word has only one r in it. Say /SHER-BET/ not /sher-bert/.

47. spayed – This is a one-syllable word, the past participle form of the verb to spay, meaning to remove the ovaries from an animal. Like the verb drown (above) the verb spay does not have a D in its infinitive form. Don’t add one to the past participle. Say /SPADE/, not /spay-ded/.

48. ticklish – The word has two syllables. Say /TIK-LISH/, not /tik-i-lish/.

49. tract – Religious evangelists often hand out long printed statements of belief called “tracts.” That’s one kind of “tract.” Houses are built on “tracts.” Then there’s the word “track.” Athletes run on “tracks.” Animals leave “tracks.” Don’t say /TRAKT/ when you mean /TRAK/, and vice-versa.

50. vehicle – Although there is an H in the word, to pronounce it is to sound hicky. Say /VEE-IKL/, not /vee-Hikl/.

51. wintry – Here’s another weather word often mispronounced, even by the weather person. The word has two syllables. Say /WIN-TRY/, not /win-ter-y/.

Got any to add to the list?

Want to improve your English in five minutes a day? Get a subscription and start receiving our writing tips and exercises daily!

Keep learning! Browse the Spelling category, check our popular posts, or choose a related post below:


1,356 Responses to “50 Incorrect Pronunciations That You Should Avoid”

  • BradyDale

    awry: uh-rye
    Not: are-ee or ah-ree

  • Andrew Mores

    I also prefer the descriptive approach to linguistic “correctness,” which is almost oxymoronic that as a self-proclaimed “descriptive linguist” I would have anything to say about correctness (note that I say *almost* oxymoronic), but I’m sure some still see my point; still, you took the time to write it, and here I am just criticizing it.

    My point is ultimately that some of this just feels like priggery.

  • Steve M

    I have one addition and two variations.

    One of my pet peeves is REALTOR. I can tolerate REEL-TER but no reading of the word supports being pronounced RE-LA-TER.

    Second is JEWELRY being pronounced JEW-luh-ry.

    The third is the word CENTIMETER. Many in the medical profession incorrectly pronounce the initial “e” as a short “o”, as in SONT-i-mee-ter. The correct pronunciation is with a short “e”: SENT-i-mee-ter.

  • Lisa

    How about this one guys: Supposedly. NOT Supposably. That drives me nuts!

  • Emily

    Some of these aren’t really fair to those who just pronounce things differently, or who have an accent. English is a hard enough language to learn as it is without critiquing pronunciations and accents. Everyone I know pronounces February like Feb-yoo-ary. The extra ‘r’ just feels weird on the tongue. I personally don’t like how it sounds when I say the extra ‘r’, so I don’t pronounce it that way.

    As for the pronunciation of “nuclear”, it’s really pronounced as NOO-klee-er because of the base word “nucleus”. I think when you have a nuclear reaction, it involves the splitting of the nucleus. I love chemistry. 😀

    I definitely agree with Saphira on this one. The tone of this article is pretty harsh and unforgiving. I myself don’t like it when people say “melk” rather than “milk”, but I know they know how to spell it. They’re not going to spell it with an ‘e’ because that WOULD be wrong. But telling them that they way they’re saying it is wrong is kind of rude and seems like you’re insulting their intelligence. I don’t think one can really blame someone if they think you’re haughty when you critique the way they say things.

    P.S. Don’t come to Chicago if you hate the short ‘a’ sound in pecan. My family is Southern AND lives in Chicago. There are a lot of short ‘a’ sounds when we speak. 😉

  • Krilu

    I’m really surprised at all the accusations of elitism. English is my second language, but the words on this list are very basic; the only ones I pronounce incorrectly are Illinois and Arkansas (and I am glad to have learned the proper pronunciation), as well as “Wednesday”, but this last one is from the comments.

  • Elizabeth

    As someone from Illinois, it is actually quite annoying to hear the “s” at the end pronounced. I have never heard anyone from Illinois say it. The “s” is silent. That tends to happen sometimes in the English language.

    I also disagree with the generalities made towards African-Americans concerning the word “ask” in particular, but pronunciation in general. It is not as if African-Americans are the only people mispronouncing words–I am African-American, I know people who aren’t African-American that pronounce ask as axe, and I am made fun of by African-Americans because I say axe and they don’t.

    In the end, I agree that pronunciation is relative to where you live, and the dialects spoken there. I feel that the bigger issue with standard English is not pronunciation, but proper grammar. Regardless of how you pronounce the word, if you are using proper grammar you will be understood.

  • Brad K.

    I understand and believe that “innovative” is meant to sound as /INN-oh-vay-tiv/. But I want to say, and often do, /ih-NAH-va-tiv/.

    I find the rotor at the top of my TV antennae quite understandable. A stepping motor that rotates the antennae. Yet if I order one, the part is called a “rotater”. I have to call it rotater or they won’t order the right gizmo.

    Brandon, 40 years ago dictionaries started including “ain’t.” The word had been in use, but my school held that it couldn’t be used in homework assignments, because it wasn’t a “proper” word. It wasn’t accepted by scholars as proper English, and was not included in dictionaries. Then it cropped up in the dictionary, and which refuted one of the English teacher’s arguments. But we still could not use the word “ain’t” in our homework.

    The dictionaries I use contain snippets of information, describing whether a word is slang, or colloquial. For a public statement, a resume, a business document, you would want to weigh carefully any words that are considered slang or colloquial. In other contexts, using words not found in a list of “proper” English words might save your life. Any tool can be misused.

    Saphira, Any tool can be misused, including English class and this web site, and this post. Students about the fourth grade need to be aware of this, and begin making considered judgements when they use words that aren’t on the spelling lists, references not called out in class or in the school library, and at times even the material in the text books.

    Experiments with Whole Language reading, Ebonics, Sight Reading, and other approaches that denigrate the existence and performance of “proper” English accomplish many goals – but cheat the student of respect for standards, and for ethics in communication. Remember – the speaker and writer are the only ones that can determine how well they will communicate with a reader or listener.

    What textbooks instruct as “true” and “information” changes from publisher to publisher, from year to year – and from administration to administration in the US Department of Education. Emphasis changes, different research is referenced, and different political agendas are prescribed or proscribed.

    I had to laugh this evening. While shopping in Wal-Mart in Ponca City, OK, I heard an announcement, “Mr. Potter, your vehicle is ready in in the automotive department.” With a definite, pronounced “aitch” sound, /VEE-hick-el/.

    Grace S., I think part of the ‘flat’ Midwest accent is due to the planning that went into development on the prairie. Compulsory education was being implemented at the same time homesteads were created and counties and territories were forming. Textbooks were common and consistent across the region. In other areas, there was too much tradition in education and especially in dialects before the imposition of compulsory education. The Midwest was too new, the traditions not as entrenched, and better expectations of “book learning” let the language of Daniel Webster replace other interpretations. The people in the Midwest were as smart as anywhere, but their *culture* was naive and malleable. I think. (I grew up in rural NW Iowa.) Then, too, the greatest part of the population of the Midwest lived on farms – and the school provided a greater degree of language stability through lack of competing social contact. So the “proper” English of the text books had a larger impact on unifying the language usage for the region. Many of the non-English speaking families relied on the school to define the dialect they learned.

  • chris

    dictionarys and hence language are dynamic changing over time.
    the meaning of words and spelling changes over time depending mainly on how the population use them and pronounce them.
    words and sentence stucture must be considered de facto standards as dictionaries are simply a record of what the current meaning, spelling and prononciation of words are.
    probably why they came up with a US dictionary with words like center, organize, color…

    i believe its just evoulution of a language, some changes will get accepted in to popular use and become added to dictionaries. good or bad.

  • Konraden

    I’m taking all this with a grain of salt. Most of the mispronunciations are just dialect and natural linguistic change. The only one I seriously have a problem with was “aks.” It just sounds ignorant.

  • ART

    English is not a phonetic language – it is not driven by the sounds that the alphabets produce consistently! Keeping that in mind, having ‘rules’ about how words should be pronounced as to not cause embarrassment is ridiculous!!

  • Noel Pautsky

    I hate it when people take it upon themselves to correct other peoples speech. Does obnoxious have three or four syllables?

  • Minimart

    entrepreneur– definitely should be added.

  • brad

    “35. niche – The word is from the French and, though many words of French origin have been anglicized in standard usage, this is one that cries out to retain a long “i” sound and a /SH/ sound for the che. Say /NEESH/, not /nitch/. ”

    Or how about when condescending blog posts focused on correct pronunciation don’t know what a long “i” sound is. Are you saying I should say it with the “i” pronounced like the word “eye”? /N-eye sh/? somehow that seems wrong.

    Perhaps you meant the long “e”, but then that relegates the preceding portion of that sentence into the realm of nonsense.

    I wonder if this comment will be deleted before or after you correct the error.

  • Nestor

    “aegis” isn’t exactly a household word…

  • Chris

    Just a comment to all those who believe jewellery is spelt jewelry.

    It is the product of the labours of a jeweller, thus jewellery.

    Just like stationers and stationery, confectioners and confectionery.

  • skeetgun

    I have lived in SW Indiana for the last twenty years and before that in central Illinois (NO noise)/St. Louis the other 29 years. The language issue I found most disturbing in this part of Indiana is the lazy use of words like mail, sale, retail, jail. They are pronounced as mayl, sayl, retayl and jayl folks, not mell, sell, retell, and jell. Also a biggie here is to drop the “l” in shoulder, holder, holding. In many cases here these words are pronounced showed-er, hoe-der, and hoe-ding. There is a 100 year old plus bank here called Old National Bank and I have heard this on their automated answering system. “Thanks for calling Owed National Bank, please continue hoe-ding while we redirect your call.” Drives me nuts. Don’t be LAZY.

  • Bill Fenstermaker

    You missed “accurate,” often said as “accruate.”

    Of all the words to “pernounce” “percsicely.”

  • Brad K.

    Skeetgun, I grew up in Iowa /EYE-oh-wa/, and lived a year in Des Moines /dee MOYN/. I have heard both mispronounced.

  • saphira

    Brad K, I don’t know why you think I teach 4th grade, but I don’t. I agree that students need to learn to differentiate, but my ESL students don’t have the background to do that where pronunciation is concerned. (I also just noticed that this pronunciation entry is tagged as “spelling,” which makes me wonder if our author knows the difference.)

    brad 115: thank you for pointing out something I meant to include yesterday but forgot. The “pecan” issue really made me raise my eyebrows, as the “long” A sound, as in “ape,” obviously does not apply.

    As my mother also often said, you shouldn’t spout off your mouth if you don’t know what you’re talking about. She did not point out that doing so simply makes you look like an idiot and weakens your argument (and reputation) tremendously, but the author of this post might do well to consider those repercussions, as well as the level of her own expertise–real and perceived.

  • Calvin

    Don’t forget the notorious city in baja california commonly referred to as Tia Juana. It’s THREE syllables TEE-HWA-NA.

    Tijuana is a city… tia juana is my long lost mexican aunt

  • John

    The word ‘deteriorate’ is often pronounced ‘de-teer-e-ate’ by people who should know better. There are two r’s, people!

    And I know we’re discussing pronunciation, but if I hear one more person say ‘between five to ten’ instead of ‘from five to ten’ or ‘between five and ten’, I’ll scream.

    I’ve even heard someone say ‘between one and two people’. Does that mean one and a half people?

  • discontinuuity

    Of course it’s correct to say “anyways.” It’s just the plural of “anyway”!

    Seriously though, I agree with most of the comments that this it is a bit elitist. As we’ve discussed, even people who speak the “Queen’s English” don’t always pronounce every word as it is spelled. Regional variation is one of the things that make English such a rich and interesting language.

    One thing that does bother me is when people mispronounce loan words from other languages improperly, such as “espresso” or “Rio Grande.”

    Anyways, I never have discovered what the proper pronunciation of “realtor” is. I’ve always pronounced it “real it er” but I don’t know what is standard.

  • Nash

    May I add some other words?

    – Lettuce : /`letIs/
    – Legal : /lee`gol/not /leg all/
    – Debt : dett
    – Gear : /gee/ not /jee/

    And many others. Anyway as an English teacher I encourage you to speak English spontaneously, freely and unconsciously. Conveying meaning is the most important thing in any communication. In daily and casual interactions don`t be too much obsessive with your pronunciation. Everybody apts to mistake even native speakers! Take your time…

  • Sam

    I think Maeve makes it pretty clear that this is the American English ideal. Regional dialect is not incorrect in the context of the given region, but it also isn’t the prescribed Midland “accent-less” speech.

    The idea behind this post isn’t elitist, I don’t think. It’s worth knowing how the word ideally sounds; pronouncing it another way is not always wrong (/nuk-yoo-lur/ is incorrect, for example, but /bob wire/ comes from an accent, not a misunderstanding of the word), but quite frankly, language is massive part of how people perceive you–speaking “correctly” is almost a necessity if you’re in a prominent position within your field. Take a look at the reception of Bush’s /nuk-yoo-lur/, for example.

  • Erin

    Chimney, not Chim-in-ney,

  • Mattress

    Great, awesome tips here!! I really am going to start saying accessory (/AK-SESS-OR-Y/) the correct way for now on. I am a woman for crying out loud =D

  • Diana

    I know people who say Drawring instead of Drawing

    Queue

    volatil /volaTYLE

    same with versatile

  • Chelsea

    dais- two pronunciations accepted by Merriam Webster, one of which you discredited
    February- again, M-W says not saying the first r is acceptable.
    It is acceptable to pronounce the h in vehicle.
    Wintry can be spelled and pronounced wintery.
    Niche goes either way.
    Again with mischievous.

    Basically I think you need to recognize that YOUR way of saying it isn’t necessarily the only way. English is a tricky language, and you can’t just go by phonetics.

  • AvidR

    I’d like to point out that correct language use and pronounciation pertaining to a word clarifies the meaning of the word, and its etymological connection to other words. This applies in particular to those who learn English as a second, third, or fourth language. Could you imagine trying to learn a language, or understand someone speaking it, when each person pronounces the word how they feel it should be pronounced. For this reason, some standard is absolutely necessary; I can’t fathom how a language could evolve gracefully without upholding some semblance of proper pronounciation.

    As a student of the French language, I listen carefully to all native speakers for their pronounciation of words. While I understand and appreciate the differences between Québécois French and Parisian French, I’d like to think that I could trust one Quebecker’s pronouciation to be extremely similar to everyone else’s, if not identical. If not, I would shudder at my chances of ever being fluent in the language.

    I admit that different dialects are fun to hear. Personally, I love to listen to southerners speaking, simply BECAUSE of their tendency to softer consonants and harder vowels. The music of language is in the variations- the different words, dialects, and cultures through which people speak. This applies to Australians and Brits, in my opinion. The differences in pronounciation, and their native expressions, are what makes listening to them so enjoyable.

    However, there is a difference between accepted dialogue in a given region, which is perhaps different than another region, and pronounciation of a word as you see fit, simply because that it how you feel it should be pronouced.

    Speaking correctly does allude to a better education, whether or not this is fair. If you want to sound educated, you should learn to speak properly. It’s that simple.

    For all of the older generation who’ve written here in dismay of the apathy of youths’ pronounciation and grammar, perhaps this will cheer you up. I am a fourteen-year-old, in the public school system, who really and truly cares about pronouciation and grammar. Though our schools may not be igniting this spark in every student today, or even most students, the flame will not die out. There are, and likely always will be, those who care. I intend to instill in my children the love of language, not just their own, but all language, in all its complexity and variations.

    Wow, when I scrolled up I realized how long I’d allowed this to become. I hope that you will all forgive me.

  • kaylee

    this is cool but something that really gets me is recognize (rec og nize)

    some people say recanize(rec-a-nize)

  • Chuck

    I work with a hillbilly from Pennsylvania, and she always talks about..
    This is myan idea on the project and that is your’in idea.

    My mind immediately wonders to… I wonder how Myan Urine compares to My Your’n.

    It drives me a bit crazy.

  • nrb

    As a former English teacher (and a Kansan), I found many of the mistakes noted in the text and in the notes familiar (and annoying as ever). I admit to being a stickler and perhaps even a prig about language. Nonetheless, I find it endearing that my mother says “wash” as /warsh/ and that the city of Du Bois, Nebraska is pronounced /doo boys/. I guess how offensive a mistake or eccentricity is depends on the context.

  • Megan Clendaniel

    White people love correcting grammar. It’s pretty obnoxious. Isn’t there something else that you can devote your empty time with? Try not being a stereotype.

  • SRS

    Some of those spelling ones matter to me. Speaking depends on company and one ought to have enough finesse to speak well or speak colloquially.

  • ..

    I like misproducing cache. saying CASH makes me happy.

  • jake

    Some have mentioned issues with considering a certain pronunciation correct and others incorrect. The link (on my name) has my short take on it, as a translation student.

  • Adam Steer, Better Is Better

    You can’t imagine how happy I was to see the word niche included in your list. When I hear someone say “nitch,” it feels like nails being dragged down a chalkboard! 🙂

    And why do you Americans say zee instead of zed…? 😉

    Cheers,
    Adam

  • Rodnei Reis

    Thank you for the tips. I’m from Brazil and I’m learning English, so this is very helpful.

    To Megan Clendaniel: Are you kidding?

  • wisp

    White people? Hahahaha! Who’s being a stereotype?

    I love correcting grammar. I’m a dark skinned guy from Argentina. Don’t waste your filled time posting bs.

    What i hate the most is the use of the word “then” instead of “than” in chatrooms and MMORPG.

    “Your not better then me!” >_<

  • bobrick

    i’ve never actually heard anyone say most of these. perhaps the author simply associates with some dim people who can’t speak english. or perhaps americans.

  • Nim

    In the UK jewellery is spelt that way’ jewellery … as such it is correct to pronounce it with four syllables.

    Apart from that … you made me smile many times 🙂

  • Chris

    I would agree – many of these are annoying. One I find particularly annoying is “aks”. I have a coworker who simply is incapable of saying “ask” – and I’ve tried to get him to say it. “Nucular” is another that really bugs me. Oh yeah, and “kil-AW-mitter” vs “KIL-oh-mee-ter”.

    But I think some in your list are a bit nit picky. Like “offen” vs “often”. Also, “preventative” IS a valid word though “preventive” is more common.

    I wonder if Megan noticed the irony in her comment about stereotyping.

  • carouselle

    Get a life for pete’s sake!

  • Tina

    Quit being a baby.

  • corajudd

    I find that most well-read people have a vast vocabulary that they use correctly but have rarely heard spoken and simply guess at the pronunciation. Keep that in mind when judging a speaker ignorant. If that doesn’t help, viewing language as a living, evolving entity might.

  • Nuria

    I have one to add. It drives me crazy when people say “library” as “li-berry.”

  • Amanda

    I have to disagree with #6 and the various responses to it. While “aks” may not be correct for Standard American English, it is acceptable in African-American Vernacular English (more commonly known, unfortunately, as Ebonics). It does not bely a lack of education or refinement– it is part of an accepted dialect of the English language. I would suggest an addendum to #6 that explains the difference, and maybe even leads the reader to some source of information about AAVE. The more you know… 🙂

  • Bill Vincent

    Thank you for this. Over the last 15 years or so, I’ve watched the average American’s grasp of their own language go to hell in the proverbial hand basket. Even major publications like the New York Times is sending out articles with 3rd grade level spelling and grammar errors, and many people seem to think this de-evolution is acceptable, and should even be embraced as “normal”.
    The ability to communicate in a clear and concise manner is the single most important facet of modern civilization, and the fact that people defend the slaughtering of language and refer to people that try to fix errors with derogatory terms like “grammar Nazi” disturbs me to the core. If I hear one more person say “woof” when they mean “wolf” I’m going to freak the hell out.

  • DrS

    I find it ironic that your first sentence talks about how you accept alternate pronunciations of words; however you still go ahead and ramble off this condescending list. How do you think words took on alternate pronunciations, popular usage. Love or hate it, it happens. Grammar and language are not confined to set rules, they change all the time. Deal with it.

Leave a comment: