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The most commonly mispronounced English words

Ever get stuck on a word? You're talking to a native English speaker, you say something, and the person just doesn't understand? When they finally figure it out, they repeat the word back and you think, "But that's exactly what I said!"

English is known for some subtle pronunciation differences that can completely change a word's meaning. Use this list of easily mispronounced words to avoid misunderstandings!


Limb / Limp: Watch out for the last letter on these! A limb is your arm, leg, or the main branch of a tree and the "b" is silent. You limp when you've hurt your leg or foot. The "p" is pronounced.

Said / Set: Be sure to clearly pronounce the "d" and "t". Said is the past tense of the verb to say (to speak or utter). Set is a verb which can mean 'to make ready' or 'put in a specified position'. E.g. I said I would set the table.

Zen / Then: Practice pronouncing "z" and "th" here. Zen is a form of meditation. Then is an adverb meaning 'at that time', 'after that', or 'in that case'. E.g I went to a class about Zen, then I went home.

Loose / Lose: Pay close attention to the final "s" and "z" sounds. Loose ends with an soft "s" sound and means 'not tight'. When you lose something you can't find it. Emphasize the "z" in lose. E.g. My ring is loose, I'm afraid I'll lose it.

Statue / Stature: Watch out for the endings! A statue is a large sculpture of a human or animal and sounds like "chew" at the end. Stature refers to someone's height or their power and reputation. The end sounds more like "chur." e.g. We honor historical figures of great stature with statues.

Quite / Quiet / Quit: These three words aren't as difficult as they look! Just pay attention to the vowel sounds. Quite sounds like "kwite" and is often used to emphasize - it can mean 'completely', 'really', and 'to a degree' (I'm quite alone, I'm quite sure). Quiet (kwi-et) means 'little noise' – like a library. Quit (kwit) means 'to cease', 'to give up' or 'to leave'. e.g. I quit playing loud music and now it's quite quiet.

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