If you can pronounce correctly every word in this poem, you will be speaking English better than 90% of the native English speakers in the world.

After trying the verses, a Frenchman said he’d prefer six months of hard labour to reading six lines aloud.

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.
Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.
Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation’s OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.
Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.
Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Fe0ffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.
Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.
Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.
Pronunciation (think of Psyche!)
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won’t it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It’s a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.
Finally, which rhymes with enough,
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!

English Pronunciation by G. Nolst Trenité


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Leave a Reply

968 Responses

  • myfurststlanguageizebonicsfool

    @Sunil Shrestha, you are more stupid tonight for texting yourself several hundred words just to have them read to you by a machine, thinking now you understand how proper English is spoken

    July 27, 2013 at 1:09 am
  • Roger Mannas

    This is nice to read, but one must need audio of this in order to pronounce correctly.

    August 2, 2013 at 5:52 am
  • Arianne

    This was fun. Made me laugh a couple of times, but I did pretty well. Especially for the fact that English is not my native language. :)

    August 23, 2013 at 7:34 pm
  • Shequi

    for the americans… yeah, this is a guide to English pronunciation… not American English :)

    August 27, 2013 at 4:43 pm
  • Shequi

    also: it’s damned hard to read – as several of the words are heteronyms and need pronouncing in the correct way to fit ^^

    August 27, 2013 at 4:45 pm
  • Georges Rouget

    This is not quite accurate, as some of the vocab. here is technical, so it somewhat misleading. Granted, English is not a phonetic language and it takes a knowledge of the phonetic rules as well as exposure to the language as well as the different lexical registers. You will likely find similar challenges in most other languages.

    September 5, 2013 at 4:29 pm
  • Mehdi

    frenchmen are so lame for they only believe they are the finest around..in being so rubbishly jerks

    September 17, 2013 at 1:36 am
  • jay

    I agree with Roger Mannas, this is of little use with no audio guide to help you determine how well you did.

    October 27, 2013 at 6:13 pm
  • rohit agrawal

    I want to all worlds best english pronunciation in english & British language.

    October 28, 2013 at 5:41 am
  • bennettpeter71

    I read and i like the topic very much. Pronunciation here are sometimes different angle, But I enjoyed.

    December 3, 2013 at 5:56 am
  • Elle

    You would be doing folk a favour by at least spelling the word “Pronunciation” correctly in your heading!! Tsk tsk!!!

    December 12, 2013 at 11:28 am
  • iraida

    super easy

    December 22, 2013 at 1:46 am
  • Scott

    Terpsichore, Melpomene = not fair

    December 26, 2013 at 6:18 am
  • Betty

    This was an absolute doddle for me, probably because I am British so I know the difference automatically. However there were a couple of words in there that i have never heard in my life (Terpsichore, Melpomene) I am pretty sure you will never need to know those. ^_^

    December 31, 2013 at 1:17 pm
  • Tyler

    Terpsichore and Melpomene are the proper names of two ancient Greek Muses. They hardly count towards proper English pronunciation. There are several others in there that are unfair as well. Proper names like Balmoral, and words co-opted from other languages.

    January 4, 2014 at 11:53 am
  • Zalmai

    Thanks. Excellent resource to show native English students how problematic pronunciation can be in their language and that they should never be critical of the difficulties that they might face in learning a foreign language.

    January 14, 2014 at 5:20 pm
  • martinkunev

    And I thought I had some knowledge about english pronunciation…

    January 15, 2014 at 10:42 pm
  • Jepell

    Does anyone have an audio or video recording of this read by an Englishman (or woman ;) ) please ?

    January 23, 2014 at 3:02 pm