Today we want to review some of the most common pronunciation errors when we speak in English and some tips on how to eliminate them. It is important to make an effort to pronounce the words correctly to avoid confusion and misunderstanding.


The most common pronunciation mistakes in English

· Words that start with an “s”, such as Spain, Spanish, school, study, student, Spanish speakers usually add an e to the beginning and say Espain, eschool, Espanish, estudy, estudent. However, there is no “e” in front, so we have to try to make the effort to start them simply with an “s”.

· The. It is the article that is usually the most difficult to pronounce. Many people start by pronouncing it “de”, as it sounds in Spanish: de book, de table etc. There are two ways to pronounce it. If the word it accompanies begins with a consonant sound, we will say it as ðə (similar to da but sticking the tongue out between the teeth as if it were a “z”) e.g. the book, the table, the computer, the university. If it starts with a vowel sound we say it as ði (similar to di but sticking out the tongue as if it were a “z”) e.g. the apple, the umbrella, the elephant, the hour.

· The contractions. It is very common to hear I don, I won, I didn instead of I don’t, I won’t, I didn’t etc. It is very important to pronounce them correctly because, in addition, in some cases it can lead to significant misunderstandings, as is the case with I can (affirmative) when we actually mean I can’t (negative). If pronouncing I can’t is especially tedious for us, we must remember that we can always say the full form, I cannot, without contraction, which is equally correct and will avoid misunderstandings.

· Words ending in -ed. This is true for most of the past simple of regular verbs and their participles and some adjectives. It is convenient to remember that words ending in -ted or -ded will be pronounced ɪd e.g. wanted, founded, connected, extended, concentrated, reminded, complicated, educated etc. On the other hand, words that do not end in -ded or -ted but simply in -ed, we pronounce them with “t” or “d” e.g. abandoned, criticized, watched, talked, worked, studied, tried etc.

· Good, would, wool. These are words that are very often confused. While good has a guttural sound (which is articulated in the throat), with would, we have to articulate it with the lips, in the same way we do with Hollywood. If we do not say “Hollygood” or “Hollybood”, we will not say “good” or “bood” when we mean “would”. With wool we make the same sound as with would, but instead of ending it with a “d” we do it with an “l”.

· Words that start with u like umbrella (vowel sound) or university (consonant sound) often give us headaches. This letter has several pronunciations:

    a) as “uh” (halfway between an “a” and an “o”) e.g. but, cut, truck, mug, tuck, and
    b) as “u” in Spanish e.g. could, would, put and
    c) as it sounds in the word you (iu) e.g. mute, union, united, unicorn, university.

· Some numbers, especially those with a 9.
So, we will not say naity but nineteen (naintín) for 19 and ninety (nainty) for 90. On the other hand, we have three and tree. This is an especially common mistake among Hispanic Americans. We pronounce three (the number three) as if it had a z in front of it, while with tree we pronounce it with a “t”.

Hasta aquí el blog de hoy, en el que os hemos mostrado algunos de los errores de pronunciación más comunes al hablar inglés. En Callan School of English impartimos nuestras clases con el método de enseñanza Callan, un método directo-natural con un enfoque comunicativo oral que integra, entre otras tareas, la pronunciación con el fin de que aprendáis a comunicaros en inglés. Porque en un mundo tan inter-conectado como en el que vivimos, los intercambios comunicativos son necesarios e imprescindibles.


J. Soler
Callan Team

. CANTERO, F.J. (2003): ‘Fonética y didáctica de la pronunciación’ en MENDOZA, Antonio (coord.), Didáctica de la Lengua y la Literatura, Prentice Hall.
. CELCE-MURCIA M., BRINTON D., GOODWIN J. (1996): ‘Teaching Pronunciation: A Reference for Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages’. Cambridge University Press.
. BARTOLÍ RIGOL M. (2005): ‘La pronunciación en la clase de lenguas extranjeras’ Laboratori de Fonètica Aplicada – LFA.