Ten More Common Pronunciation Mistakes to Avoid

A few weeks ago, your Guru shared some common mispronunciations. The response was so positive, she’s emboldened to share a few more. Remember, embarrassment is only one repercussion of mispronouncing a word; saying a word incorrectly can make you seem uneducated, and lead to misunderstanding.

Athlete, athletic: Don’t make the mistake of putting in an extra syllable (ath-e-lete, ath-e-letic)

Dilate: Again, no extra syllable. It’s not di-a-late

Foliage: Your Guru hears “foilage” a lot, as if it came out of an aluminum roll. It doesn’t.

Hierarchy: Do pronounce all the letters “hi-er-archy,” not “hi-archy.”

Liable: You are liable for the damages if you are successfully sued for libel. But don’t confuse these discrete (look it up on the Grammar Guru app!) words.

Mischievous: It would be mischievous of your Guru not to point out the frequent misplacement of the accent on this word. Remember, it is accented the same as mischief. Look out for the order of the [i] and [e] in the spelling, too, and don’t add another [i] in the ending (not mischievious).

Moot: The definition of “moot” is moot (open to debate) but not the pronunciation: [mūt] and not [myūt].

Nother: There’s no such word (“that’s a whole nuther subject”). Say, “That’s a whole other subject,” or “that’s another whole subject.” Misanalysis is a common type of speech error based on the misperception of where to draw the line between components of a word or phrase. “A whole nother” comes from misanalyzing “an other” as “a nother.” Not good. Not good.

Nuclear: Another of your Guru’s favorites. The British and Australians find the American repetition of the [u] between the [k] and [l] quaintly amusing (“nukular”). Good reason to get it right.

Orient: Used when you’re talking about how to orient yourself on a map. The British and Australians say “orientate,” with an extra syllable. Here in America, though, leave it out.

Again, most times the spelling of a word will lead to the correct pronunciation, although, with English, it’s tough to be sure. When in doubt, make friends with your dictionary and look it up or ask your Guru.

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