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The most difficult words to pronounce in English:


  • Words ending in -ed might sound as /id/ /t/ /d/ - for example, excited (id), finished (t), called (d). How do we find this out? Check a dictionary or go with the option that sound more natural;
  • /w/ and /wh/ - written differently but pronounced the same way (witch–which);
  • /ing/ - don’t pronounce the “g” and don’t make a ringing sound;
  • /th/ does not sound like /d/ /f/ /v/ - some of the most difficult words are thought, think or thumb;
  • Minimal pairs. These are words like sleep and slip, that are only different by one sound.

Are you ready for a small quiz? Here's the top 10 of the most difficult words to pronounce in English:

Number Word
01. Rural
02. Otorhinolaryngologist
03. Colonel
04. Penguin
05. Sixth
06. Isthmus
07. Anemone
08. Squirrel
09. Choir
10. Worcestershire

Guide on how to pronounce the most difficult sounds in English:


The “L” sound

  1. Your tongue should touch the back of your front teeth and the top of your mouth, just behind your teeth.
  2. Say the word “light”. Say it a few times.
  3. Make sure your tongue touches the top of your mouth.

    The “R” sound

  4. Your tongue should not touch the top of your mouth.
  5. Pull your tongue back to the middle of your mouth, near where it naturally rests if you weren’t saying anything.
  6. As you say the sound, your lips should be a little rounded.
  7. Say the word “right” a few times.
  8. You should feel air blowing between your tongue and the top of your mouth as you speak. You should also feel your lips get a little rounder when you make the sound.

    Now for the “TH” sound

    • This one may seem strange if you don’t have a similar sound in your native language.
    • To make this sound, put your tongue between your top and bottom teeth.
    • Your tongue should stick out a little between your teeth, and as you push air out of your mouth, let some air escape between your tongue and teeth—that’s what makes the sound.
    • Say the word “think”. Repeat it a few times.
    • Make sure you push your tongue between your teeth.