6 Pronunciation Mistakes You Make When Speaking English at Work

18 September 2019

Pronunciation is something learners of English get very worried about, especially when they have to speak in meetings or presentations. They are concerned that colleagues or clients won’t understand them and so they wont be able to get their point across clearly.

Pronunciation in english is hard because it is not a phonetic language, but don’t worry we are here to help!

In this article, we’re going to talk about 6 of the most common pronunciation mistakes people make at work and show you how to fix them.

You’ll soon be pronouncing them confidently at work!

1. The pronunciation of ‘develop’

  • This word is often pronounced with the stress on the last syllable deveLOP. However, the stress should be on the 2nd syllable deVELop.

  • Moreover the 1st syllable is a /di/ sound and the last syllable is the schwa sound ə (link).

Try practicing this sentence: “We need to develop new ways of doing business.” 

2. The pronunciation of ‘focus’

This word is commonly mispronounced because people tend to pronounce the ‘o’ as a short ‘o’ sound but in fact it should be a long ‘o’ sound. The long ‘o’ is the same as the ‘o’ in ‘go’ and ‘no’, as opposed to the short ‘o’ in ‘orange’ and ‘hot’.

Try practicing this:

1) Say ‘go’

2) Then repeat that long ‘o’ sound

3) Add the ‘f’ to the long ‘o’ sound – ‘fo’

4) Then add the rest of the word – /fo – kəs/


3. The pronunciation of ‘inevitable’


When pronouncing this word, people often get the stress wrong. The stress is on the 2nd syllable – the ‘ev’ – inEVitable.

Although, the end of the word is spelt the same as ‘table’ ‘able’ and ‘cable’ it is NOT pronounced the same as these words, in which the ‘a’ is a long ‘a’ sound.

The ‘tab’ in ‘inevitable’ is pronounced differently; the ‘a’ should be pronounced as the schwa sound. This is because it is not a stressed syllable within this word, and most unstressed vowel sounds within a word are pronounced with the schwa.

4. The pronunciation of ‘profitable’

Similar to inevitable – the ‘a’ in ‘tab’ is pronounced with the schwa sound, so the ‘table’ is exactly the same as in inevitable.

Moreover, it’s very important to think about where the stress is. The stress is on first syllable ‘prof’.


5. The pronunciation of ‘suit’

A classic mistake people make when pronouncing this word is pronouncing it like /sweet/ or /suite/, but we actually pronounce it /soot/ with a long ‘oo’ sound. The same as in ‘shoot’.


Practice these sentences:

  • Does Tuesday suit /soot/ you? 
  • Would this meeting room be suitable /sootable/?


6. Research (noun) vs research (verb)


People commonly get the stress wrong on this word. Did you know that when we stress the syllable depends on if it is being used as a noun or a verb?


‘Research’  as a noun. 

When we are using the noun, the stress is on the 1st syllable research.

‘Research’ as a verb

When we use research as a verb we change the stress to the 2nd syllable – research

The rule:  Often with 2 syllable nouns the stress is on the first syllable, while with 2 syllable verbs the stress is on the second. This is the case most of the time but as is often the case in English, there are a few exceptions!


So do you think you were making any of these pronunciation mistakes? They are incredibly common so don’t worry if you were. We hope you can now feel more confident about your pronunciation at work! Now, you can check out our article – 9  common mistakes people make with their English at work.


Want to learn expressions and tips to sound more confident and fluent at work?