PSLE Oral | Commonly Mispronounced Words

Realising that you have been mispronouncing a word your entire life can be both shocking and mortifying. However, do know that you are not the only one. One of the greatest challenges of learning English is the fact that English words may not always sound like how you expect them to. Despite our painstaking efforts in speaking perfectly standard English, we may still fall victim to the trap of mispronunciation if we are not mindful enough, especially when it comes to words that are widely mispronounced. Fret not! It is never too late to start correcting these mistakes. In this blog entry, join me in learning how we should tackle some of the most commonly mispronounced English words.

PSLE Oral | 5 Commonly Mispronounced Words

1. Mischievous

Meaning: Causing or showing a fondness for causing trouble in a playful way. (OXFORD Dictionary)

Correct pronunciation: mis-chi-vuhs

Incorrect pronunciation: mis-chi-vee-uhs

More often than we would like to admit, many speakers have the tendency to add an extra [i] at the back of this word. As such, they may pronounce the three-syllable word, /mis-chi-vuhs/,  as a four-syllable word, /mis-chi-vee-uhs/, which is similar to how one pronounces the word oblivious

Unfortunately, the common mispronunciation of this word has also led to its infelicitous spelling variation,  mischievious. Therefore, learning how to properly pronounce it could potentially help you familiarise yourself with the correct spelling as well. 

2. Library

Meaning: A building or room containing collections of books, periodicals, and sometimes films and recorded music for use or borrowing by the public or the members of an institution. (OXFORD Dictionary)

Correct pronunciation: li-BRE-ree

Incorrect pronunciation: li-BE-ree

It may be a challenge for many speakers to correctly pronounce English words containing two [r] sounds that are closely placed together. As such, people tend to drop the first [r] in this word, pronouncing it as /li-be-ry/, instead of /li-bre-ree/. This mistake is similarly reflected in the way some may pronounce the word february. Hence, do be more cautious about the way you pronounce words that comprise two adjacent [r] sounds. It may not seem intuitive and easy at first, but practice makes perfect!  

3. Athlete

Meaning: A person who is proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise.  (OXFORD Dictionary)

Correct pronunciation: ath-leet

Incorrect pronunciation: ath-e-leet

Likewise to the word mischievous, many people add an extra [e] to the middle of this word, making it sound like a three-syllable word, /ath-e-leet/, instead of a two-syllable word, /ath-leet/

Concomitantly, this pronunciation error is also prevalent in the adjective form, athletic. Some may wrongly pronounce it as a four-syllable word, /ath-e-le-tic/, instead of a three-syllable word, /ath-le-tic/. Once again, pronouncing this word inaccurately opens the door to the risk of misspelling it too! A lot of students commit the mistake of spelling the words as athelete and atheletic. Therefore, it is crucial to make a conscious effort to master both the pronunciation and spelling of the words. 

4. Escape/ Especially


Escape: Break free from confinement or control.

Especially: Used to single out one person or thing over all others.  (OXFORD Dictionary)

Correct pronunciation

Escape: es-cape 

Especially: es-pecially

Incorrect pronunciation

Escape: ex-cape 

Especially: ex-pecially

A common mistake made by English speakers is incorporating the [x] sound into words with [es]. Like how one would pronounce expensive and exclusive, some people may introduce the [x] sound to words that begin with [es], such as escape, especially and even espresso. Therefore, do make sure that you pronounce these words as /es-cape/, /es-pecially/ and /e-spres-oh/, instead of /ex-cape/, /ex-pecially/ and /ex-spres-oh/

5. Wednesday

Meaning: The day of the week before Thursday and following Tuesday. (OXFORD Dictionary)

Correct pronunciation: Wenz-dei

Incorrect pronunciation: Wed-nez-dei

Believe it or not, many adults are guilty of mispronouncing this common word that is used in everyday conversations too. Often, people do not realise that the /d/ is silent and the word should be pronounced as /Wenz-dei/. Considering that it is a word that you may use at least once a week, it is high time for us to get it right!

Summing up… 

Commonly Mispronounced Words

That is all I have for you in this blog post. If you find yourself to be guilty of making any of the abovementioned mistakes, it is time for you to practise more caution when pronouncing these common but tricky words. Learning English is a journey that requires constant exposure and practice. Hence, if you ever stumble across words, even the seemingly simple ones, that you face difficulties with pronouncing, never be afraid to voice out your concerns. 

Have a great /Wenz-dei/ tomorrow!

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Ms Jocelyn is an English Teacher at Lil’ but Mighty. Equipped with knowledge of the English Language system and an interactive teaching style, Ms Jocelyn has helped many of her students excel in their school assignments and examinations. As a dedicated educator, she believes in creating a safe and stimulating environment in which learners are encouraged to explore their strengths, initiate ideas and unleash their full potential.