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A Step-by-Step Guide to Pronouncing Unfamiliar Words | Top English Academy

A Step-by-Step Guide to Pronouncing Unfamiliar Words

Do you struggle to pronounce words you see for the first time? Worry no more, we have an exclusive five-step guide to help you master pronunciation.

Whether you're preparing for a speaking exam or interacting with native speakers, being able to pronounce unfamiliar words with confidence is essential. This guide provides a simple and effective approach to learn how to break down words into syllables, identify stress, and practice correct pronunciation.

In addition to the five essential steps, we also provide bonus tips such as using phonetic dictionaries and listening to native speakers. With practice and consistency, you will be able to pronounce unfamiliar words with confidence and boost your overall language skills. 

Step 1: Identify the Vowels

  • Look for the vowels (a, e, i, o, u, y) in the word.
  • For example: pharmaceuticals (a, e, i, u)

Step 2: Divide the Word into Syllables

  • A syllable is a group of letters that make one sound together.
  •  For example: universe (u-ni-verse)
  • Every syllable contains one vowel sound.
  • Divide the word into syllables, with one vowel in each syllable.
  • For example: Marek (Ma-rek), Lewandowski (Le-wan-dow-ski)

Step 3: Pronounce Each Syllable

  • Pronounce the syllables one by one.
  • For example: phar-ma-ceu-ti-cals

Step 4: Determine the Stress

  • For words with more than one syllable, identify which syllable to stress.
  • Consider any similar words you know.
  • For example: pharmaceuticals (stress on the third syllable from the end)
  • If you don't know any similar words, make an educated guess based on what sounds right.

Step 5: Say the Whole Word Smoothly with Stress

  • Pronounce the entire word smoothly, with the stress on the correct syllable.
  • For example: pharmaceuticals (far-ma-soo-ti-kals)

Additional Tips:

  • Use a phonetic dictionary or online app to check the pronunciation of words.
  • Listen to native speakers pronouncing the words.
  • Practice saying the words out loud.
  • Don't be afraid to make mistakes, everyone makes them sometimes.


  • Spelling does not represent pronunciation perfectly.
  • These five steps will help you make a good attempt at pronouncing new words.
  • With practice, you will be able to pronounce unfamiliar words with confidence.

Bonus Tip:

If you are struggling to pronounce a particular word, try breaking it down into smaller chunks. For example, the word "pharmaceutical" can be broken down into "phar-ma-ceu-ti-cal." Once you can pronounce the smaller chunks, you can put them together to pronounce the whole word.