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Speech tip: Mastering the unexpected

If you learned English as a second language, you may have learned many new words by reading them. If you try to guess the correct pronunciation, you will very often be correct…but not always! You will encounter many unexpected pronunciations.

Click on the video to hear the pronunciations.

Some words are pronounced just the way you would expect:  


They all have the same vowel sound.  

However, these words do not follow the expected pattern.  


Not one of these words is pronounced with the same vowel sound as the first group of words.

Maid, paid, and braid are pronounced just as we might expect: all with the same vowel.

But said and plaid have pronunciations that do not follow the pattern.  

English is full of pronunciation surprises.  We say names and games with the same vowel, but we say the River Thames with a different vowel sound.  

We say pays, days, and trays.  However, says is pronounced with a different vowel.

We say bought, brought, and thought with the same vowel sound.  But drought has a different vowel sound.  

If you are not sure how a word is pronounced, here are two suggestions:

  1. Listen to how native speakers pronounce the word.
  2. Use an online dictionary to listen to how the word is pronounced!

Confident Speech offers accent and pronunciation training.  Explore our web site to learn more about our range of offerings. Or contact us