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Difficult English Words to Pronounce

3 min read
22 April 2021
3 students talking together in a classroom

When you are learning English, you will come across many difficult English words to pronounce. Some difficult English words are “tongue twisters”, because of the combination of sounds fighting for control of your vocal tracts. Others just have unusual letter combinations that even native English speaks can have trouble getting their tongue around.  


Tips to pronouncing difficult English words


Fifth and Froth 

The “th” sound can be quite difficult for a lot of English learners. It is quite an uncommon consonant sound, existing in few other languages. Be careful not to replace it with a “TH” or a “V” sound.  

We are often asked how to pronounce “Fifth”. Fifth is quite a difficult English word to pronounce as it has an “f” and a “th” next to each other. Froth is a little easier, but people can still get tongue tied for the same reason.  

Tip: with these words, take your time thinking about the letters individually.  


Sixth – months  

Again with the tricky “th” sound, we have sixth. Even native speakers find sixth one of the more difficult English words to pronounce, as the tongue needs to move in a small, swift movement from the middle of the mouth to the teeth.  

Tip: think about the “x” and the “th” as separate sounds. You can complete the “x” sound, before you move on.  


Pacific and specific 

Pacific and specific aren’t terribly difficult English words to pronounce, but people do often get them mixed up. It’s quite a common mistake for someone to say “Pacific”, when they mean specific. If you need to talk about something that’s specifically Pacific, though, you might find these words hard to pronounce.  

Tip: a good way to remember the difference between Pacific and Specific is that the Pacific in Peaceful where as specific is explicit.  


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How to pronounce: Pronounce 

Another one of the difficult Engish words people often struggle with is “pronounce”. The two Ns very close to each other can make this English word difficult for non-native speakers.  

Tip: Break the word up to give your vocal tracts the opportunity to reset. Instead of “pro-nounce”, try “pron-ounce” 


February and Rarely 

The word February is a little tricky due to the consonant cluster that is not seen in modern English. It is actually borrowed from the French “fevrier”, which was introduce some time after the Norman Conquest. It is a hard word to spell!  

Tip: Most English speakers will drop the first “R”, pronouncing the word “Febuary” - which might help make it easier for you, too.  

Another word that has an uncommon combination of “Rs” is rarely. Students often asking us how to pronounce this, as it can be difficult to get your tongue back to the second “R”.  

Tip: You can get away with not pronouncing the second “R” if it gets you through the word easier. “Reh-ley” 


You might find these words laborious (synonym for “difficult”) but keep practicing and you will get your tongue around those consonant clusters in no time!  



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