10 difficult words to say in British and American English

What words do you find hard to pronounce in English? In this video we look at 10 words that English learners find tricky and look at how we say them in British and American English.

Are there any words that you’re pronouncing wrongly in English? Let’s find out.
We’re going to look at ten words that are tricky, see how some English learners say them and see how Jay and I say them.
So in British and American English. Ready? First word…

Comfortables – ah, no ‘s’. Comfortable.
Comfortable.
Comfortable.

No, no, no. It’s comfortable. Comfortable. 3 syllables. We write it like it has 4 – comf-or-ta-ble, but the ‘or’ disappears.

Comfortable
Comfortable.

That’s the thing about English pronunciation. We often don’t say what we write. OK. Next one.

Months, months, months.
Months
Months.

Not bad. It’s hard to pronounce this word because it’s got the ‘th’ sound quickly followed by ‘s’. You have to pull your tongue back very fast. Months. Months. Be careful not to say month-es. It’s just one syllable. Months.
Now here’s a secret. If you say muns or munts, we’ll understand. We say that too when we’re speaking fast.

Muns.
Munts.

OK, next one.

Receep.
Receep.

Nope.

Recipe.

Nearly. It has three syllables but the stress is on the first syllable.

Recipe

Mmmm. This soup is delicious.
It was my mother’s recipe.

The next word looks similar.

Recept.
Receipt.
Recept.

No. We don’t pronounce the ‘p’. It’s silent.

Receipt
Receipt

A receipt is a document that shows you’ve paid for something. Let’s hear it in a sentence.

Yes?
I’d like to return this sweater.
Do you have the receipt?
No, I’m sorry. I lost it.
Did you pay by credit card?
No, I paid cash.
Then I’m sorry. I can’t help you.
But I just bought it this morning.

Next word.

Literature.
Literature.
Literature.

It’s hard. How many syllables does it have? Jay and I say it differently.

Literature.
Literature.

Did you hear the difference? In British English it just has three syllables and in American it has four.

Lit-e-ra-ture.
Lite-ra-ture.
Literature.
Literature.

There’s a great way to practise long words like this. It’s called backchaining. You start at the back of the word and work forward. ture-rature-literature. Try it. ture-rature-literature. Great. Next one. Let’s have something easier.

Busy.
Busy.

It’s nearly right but notice the vowel sound. It’s not ooo – and it’s not u like in bus. It’s /I/ like in bit.

Can we talk?
I’m a bit busy.

Busy.
Busy.

OK, next one.

Debt.
Debt.

No.

Debt.

Pretty close! A debt is money that you owe someone. You borrowed some money and now you’re in debt. But the letter b is silent. Listen.

Debt.
Debt.

Another word like that is doubt – when you’re not sure if something is true.
Yes. That has a silent ‘b’ too.
I doubt if you can say the next word.

Hierarchy.
Hierarchy.
Hierarchy.

No,that’s not right.

Hierarchy.
Hierarchy.

This word means a system where people are organized into different levels of importance. So like in a company with the boss at the top. Hierarchy.
Hi-er-ar-chy – it’s four syllables but sometimes we run the first two together so it’s almost three. Hier-ar-chy. Let’s back chain it. Say it with me. chy – archy – hierarchy. Great, next one. This one’s very common.

Aren’t.
Aren’t.
Aren’t.

No, all wrong. When you contract are and not, you have to make them one syllable. But Jay and I say this word differently. Listen.

Aren’t.
Aren’t.

My r is much softer and Jay’s is stronger.

Aren’t.
Aren’t.

Say it the American way!
It doesn’t matter which way you say it, but make sure it has just one syllable.
And sometimes we don’t pronounce the ‘t’.
Yeah. When we’re speaking casually we both put a stop on the t, so it ends abruptly. Aren’.
Aren’ – We aren’ finished yet.
That’s right. We aren’. Here’s the next word

Crisps. Crisps. Crisps.
Crisps.
Crisps.

These are crisps. The tricky thing here is the ‘sps’ at the end – sps. Try it. sps. sps.

Crisps
Crisps

But we don’t call these crisps in America. We call them potato chips. Say chips.
No chips are different. We have fish and chips.
They’re French fries.
OK, last word. This one’s very tricky.

Thoroughly. Thoroughly. Thoroughly.
Thoroughly. No, I don’t know.
Thoroughly. Je sais pa.

It’s very hard. It’s got a th sound and then an ^ vowel and then an r and an l sound.

Thoroughly.
Thoroughly.
Thoroughly.
Thoroughly.

Let’s back chain it. Say it with me. ly–oroughly-thoroughly. ly–oroughly-thoroughly. Could you say it?
And that’s it. We want to say a big thank you to our English learners: Remi, Fenando and Hugo.
They were such great sports.
Now let us know in the comments below what words you find hard to pronounce in English and perhaps we’ll make another video about them.
Or send us a video an we’ll see if you’re saying a word correctly.
See you all next week! Bye. Bye-bye.

Watch more videos on difficult words to pronounce:

Here’s one on ten more words that are hard to pronounce.

And here’s one on some English tongue twisters.

Pronunciation really matters, of course, but so does grammar and vocabulary.

 

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