GIF or JIF? 10 Commonly Mispronounced Words That Today’s English Learner Should Know
English can be so weird.
Why are there so many words that look completely different than they sound?
English pronunciation can be so complicated that even native speakers go their whole lives mispronouncing certain words.
There are probably at least a few that you have been saying incorrectly without knowing it.
Well, not anymore!
We will teach you 17 of the most often mispronounced words in English, including some very common words that you will encounter all the time.
Master their pronunciation and you might even have a thing or two to teach a native English speaker!
In the list below, we will spell out the common incorrect pronunciations as well as the correct pronunciation for each word. We will put the stressed syllables in bold.
How it is mistakenly pronounced: “Dee-fie-ant-lee” or “Def-in-it-lee”
How it is actually pronounced: “Def-in-it-lee”
Not only is this word sometimes mispronounced by non-native speakers, but its spelling is also butchered (destroyed) by just about everyone.
Who knows why? It kind of sounds how it is spelled, but we just cannot get “definitely” right! We might spell it “definately” or “defiantly” for years, even after being corrected. It is a cursed word.
I’m definitely going to study my English lessons tonight.
How it is mistakenly pronounced: “Lie-bear-ee”
How it is actually pronounced: “Lie-brair-ee”
The “r” sounds in this word are hard for a lot of non-native speakers to figure out. Though it is clearly spelled with an “r” right next to the “b,” even native speakers tend to leave it out.
We went to the local library to check out some books.
How it is mistakenly pronounced: “Eye-tin-air-ee” or “Eye-ten-ee-air-ee”
How it is actually pronounced: “Eye-tin-er-air-ee”
When you plan to go on vacation somewhere, you will probably make a list of things you plan to do while you are there. This would be known as an itinerary, but boy is that word weird to say!
Just remember to pronounce it how it is spelled, even if it sounds weird, and you will be good to go.
Sophia wrote up an itinerary for our trip to the Bahamas.
How it is mistakenly pronounced: “Pro-nun-say-shun”
How it is actually pronounced: “Pro-nun-see-ay-shun”
Well this is kind of a pun, huh? Pronunciation is mispronounced a lot, but it is quite the complex word to say (and to spell!) due to all those syllables.
The correct pronunciation will be listed in your textbook.
How it is mistakenly pronounced (up to debate): “Jiff”
How it is actually pronounced: “Giff”
You have definitely seen a GIF (the abbreviation for “Graphics Interchange Format”) online. It is a small image file, often with a quick animation or motion.
The pronunciation of this word has been the subject of many memes through the years. Even Steve Wilhite, the inventor of the GIF file format, claims that it is pronounced “jiff.”
But you could argue that “jiff” is not correct, since GIF is an abbreviation. “Graphics” has a hard “g,” so it is only sensical that GIF be pronounced with a hard “g” as well.
Did you see that GIF of a cat doing a backflip? Hilarious.
How it is mistakenly pronounced: “Axe”
How it is actually pronounced: “Ah-sk”
Pronouncing “ask” is weirdly uncomfortable, but saying “axe” is somehow easier. Lots of native and non-native English speakers get this one wrong for that very reason.
I must ask John where he left the library books.
How it is mistakenly pronounced: “Wed-nez-day”
How it is actually pronounced: “Wenz-day”
Why on earth is Wednesday spelled like that? Apparently, it is due to the word’s German origins. “Wednesday” was pronounced more like “Wodan’s Day” in old German, a tribute to the Anglo-Saxon god Wodan.
On Wednesdays we wear pink.
How it is mistakenly pronounced: “Stoh-mahk” or “Stoh-match”
How it is actually pronounced: “Stum-ick”
It is a bit weird to pronounce “ach” as “ick,” but that is how “stomach” is properly pronounced.
My stomach is killing me, I need some food.
How it is mistakenly pronounced: “Mehm” or “Mee-mee”
How it is actually pronounced: “Meem”
If you are guilty of mispronouncing this word, do not fret. This word was almost never used until the rise of Internet memes, so it makes sense why it would confuse some people.
Did you see that meme about the moth and the lamp? Hilarious.
How it is mistakenly pronounced: “Buh-ree”
How it is actually pronounced: “Bare-ee”
“Bury” and “berry” are homophones, meaning they have the same pronunciation, if you were interested in a fun fact.
Let’s bury the evidence, nobody will ever know.
English words can be quite complex when it comes to pronunciation. With a little bit of hard work, any English learner can definitely figure them out. It just takes some context, the proper pronunciation and a desire to master the English language. Good luck!
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