It is embarrassing to be caught mispronouncing an aphonetic(?) word whose pronunciation is not intuitive. Are there any comprehensive word lists (may be the 5000 popular words that are commonly mis-pronounced) or resources for a non-native English speaker that can help with the correct pronunciation of "irregular" words.

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    Check out What words are commonly mispronounced by literate people who read them before they heard them? As a non-native speaker, you will probably have to start smaller. And just learn everything by heart (like everyone else has to, including native speakers). – RegDwigнt Aug 1 '14 at 19:46
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    You must have a bilingual dictionary for English-mvarkslanguage. That should give pronunciations in English phonemics for all the words (and their varieties). Learn the pronunciations along with the spellings, just like learning the genders and plural forms for German nouns; look up any new words you encounter in reading (or old words with new senses, or variations in spelling or morphology) to check their pronunciations. Do not depend on the spellings to tell you the pronunciations; they lie. – John Lawler Aug 1 '14 at 20:27
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    You should also ask this question on the English Language Learners Stack Exchange; folks there might be more familiar with books and resources for English learners. – outis nihil Aug 1 '14 at 21:19
  • I find the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary extremely helpful. In contrast to most other dictionaries, it includes less popular or alternative pronunciations as well. – painfulenglish Aug 7 '14 at 8:12
  • this poem has a few – Martin Smith Sep 22 '14 at 22:45

This has been bothering me as well, but for other (non-English) languages I'm studying. As @ObiWanShanobi points out the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) can be very helpful if you can get comfortable reading the somewhat obscure symbols.

But far and away the most useful resource I've found for pronunciation is Forvo which has Geotagged recordings of native speakers saying thousands of words. Currently English is one of the well-represented languages with 100,000+ recordings from all over the world (UK, US, etc.).

The Google Translate speaking functionality has a voice that is unnatural sounding (don't copy the intonation!), but can be helpful for hearing inflected forms (where Forvo is not as complete).

Besides that, I think speaking with patient/willing friends is the ideal situation.


AmE orthography does not always lend itself to intuitive pronunciation. That much is true.

I would recommend gaining some familiarity with the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). With this knowledge, pronunciation guides will be more explicit in indicating exactly which English phoneme is expected. Nearly all resources will expose an IPA translation of the word that looks something like this



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    As opposed to the orthographic conventions of this or that other English dialect? I don’t understand the first sentence. – tchrist Aug 11 '14 at 3:27
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    I would have thought AmE orthography more intuitive towards pronunciation than other dialects in many cases (cf theater, color, etc). That was Noah Webster's main criterion, after all. – Andrew Leach Aug 11 '14 at 7:28
  • also, what does AmE in particular have to do with this question? The question does not specify AmE. – user428517 Jan 5 '15 at 20:03

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