The hardest words to pronounce in English …

Well, let me be clear, I’ve snaffled this list from an article published by ‘The Independent’ newspaper in the UK a while ago. It was based on a popular Reddit thread that asked users to identify the most difficult words to pronounce in English – please note, the pics / writing are all me.

I had fun with this, hope you do too!

10. Rural.

Heck, I feel for you guys on this one. Two r’s separated by two different vowels – a lip AND tongue twister.

9. Otorhinolaryngologist.

Yes, a long and complex word, but do you really need to say it? Native speakers of English would find this one hard. I guess if you’re a doctor you’d need to be able to say this, but honestly, this is not a word used in everyday conversation!

Want a work around? Just say ‘ENT doctor’ (ENT = ears, nose and throat). Otherwise, check out our one off ‘Pop-In to English Pronunciation‘ events, I’d be very happy to walk you through how to say it.

8.            Colonel. 

I hear you, the spelling is a nightmare and nothing like how we say it.  The secret it is to say ‘kernel’.  Our blog post ‘Why is the English Alphabet tricky to read, write and pronounce?‘ (April 2020) examines the tricky relationship between written letters and pronunciation in English.

7.            Penguin. 

This one was a surprise to me – I’m guessing the n+g+w is tricky.  Pen–gwin.  There you go.

6. Sixth.

Yes, we know, definitely tricky – soooo many consonants: “sik-s-th”. Practice makes perfect though. Want to master ‘Th’? Check out Artikul8’s e-course on how to say ‘Th’.

5.            Isthmus. 

This is another word that’s little bit ‘out there’ – I had to look up what it meant (dictionary definition: ‘it’s a narrow strip of land with sea on either side, forming a link between two larger areas of land’). Not sure I’ve ever said this word except in a geography lesson as a teenager. But I guess if you teach geography, you’ll need to be able to say it. It’s the combination of s+th+m in the middle that makes this a tongue twister.

4.            Anemone.  

I agree this is hard to say when learning English as a second language – try ‘a-neh-muh-nee’. But isn’t it beautiful?!

3.            Squirrel. 

Notorious, that’s what this word is.  So is ‘quarrel’.  No wonder ‘squirrel’ was a ‘test’ word to identify Germans in World War II (and by the way, this is a red squirrel, native to the UK). The ability to combine tricky consonants is the key to good pronunciation of these words. Check out Artikul8’s courses.

2.            Choir. 

I can see why this word is hated.  ‘Kw’ followed by very tricky vowels.  Not easy.  But achievable with practice! Think ‘k-w-eye-yer’.

1.            Worcestershire. 

You are not alone, Americans often get this wrong too.  Try ‘Wuh-ster-sher’. It’s a yummy sauce, by the way, fabulous on grilled cheese!

Any other words you want help with?! Drop us a line on Artikul8’s Facebook page, we’re happy to help! 😆