Pronunciation Matters: A look at commonly mispronounced words

Pronunciation with Shurley English.jpg

I’ve had the pleasure of living around the United States- on the East coast, the South, the Midwest, and the West; some people say they can even hear a British English accent when I speak. Hmm?  I grew up with one grandma speaking with a thick Southern accent, the other had a Midwestern accent and called the sofa a “davenport.” I call soft drinks “pop” and gym shoes are “tennis shoes.”  I find it interesting to hear the various words we use around our country and the pronunciations for words we use on a daily basis that are actually incorrect.   So today, let’s have a little fun and step back into the classroom to take a look at some commonly mispronounced words.

almondThe “L” is always silent! Who knew?  Say, “ah-mund” not “all-mund.” 

bury It is pronounced just like berry, not “burr-ri.”

dessert If you say, “dizz-urt” you’re correct.  It’s not pronounced “des-ert” like the dry barren land.

 coupon:  The correct pronunciation is “Koo-pon” (pon as in pawn). It is often mispronounced as “koo-pun” (pronunciation of u as in sun).

 cocoaIt should be pronounced as “koh-koh,” not “koh-koh-wa.”

electoralWe’ve been saying: e-lek-TOR-al; say: e-LEK-tor-al.

mischievousWe’ve been saying: miss-CHEE-vee-us; pronounce it: MISS-che-vus.

realtorWe’ve been saying: REE-la-tur; it’s actually pronounced: REEL-tur.

sherbet:  Do you say: SHER-bert; oops! I do! The true pronunciation is: SHER-bet.

oftenThe “T” is silent, although you may still see heated debates surrounding the "T." Often rhymes with coffin. 

ideal: While ideal is not necessarily a commonly mispronounced word, it is a word that has a regional variance in usage. Ideal is NOT conventionally a synonym for idea, though sometimes it is used that way. Here’s how Webster’s Dictionary defines these two words:

            Ideal-an honorable or worthy principle or aim

            Idea-existing as a mental image or in fancy or imagination only


It’s easy to get sucked in to the region we live in and pick-up verbal habits of the people by whom we’re surrounded. So, pay attention to the words you use and their pronunciation as you leave your mark on today’s youth.

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Kimberly Crady

Kimberly Crady is an adventurous woman with an immense love for life, learning, and teaching. After teaching in upper elementary classrooms for nearly 10 years, she joined the Shurley Team in 2005.  Kimberly has had the unique experience of teaching Shurley English lessons in all levels, Kindergarten-8th grade and training teachers across the United States.  Kimberly is a National Consultant and SEDA Teacher for Shurley Instructional Materials.


Kimberly’s passion for helping people and living a healthy lifestyle has led her to continue her education in the area of Health and Wellness.  She enjoys numerous outdoor activities from hiking and snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains to paddle boarding in the ocean; although, these days you can find her practicing hot yoga in a Bikram Yoga studio. She also enjoys traveling abroad, live music, reading, and spending time with her favorite mutt, Lu.  Kimberly’s experience as a Certified Health & Wellness Coach and Teen Life Coach helps support her firm belief in teaching the whole person, especially in the classroom.