Updated May 4, 2014




Index of Items on This Page

  1. ed after t and d
  2. ‘es’ after ‘s’, ‘tʃ’, ‘dʒ’, ‘z’, ‘ʃ’ and ‘ʒ
  3. When ‘o’ is pronounced as ʌ
  4. Clothes
  5. ‘Modern’
  6. ‘Mechanism’
  7. ‘Woman’ and ‘women’
  8. ‘Graduated’
  9. ‘Survey’
  10. ‘Industry’
  11. ‘Economy’ (and Related Words)
  12. ‘Technical’ (and Related Words)
  13. How to Say "You know" when Introducing a New Piece of Information 
  14. When and when not to emphasize the word, some
  15. When and when not to emphasize the word, self
  16. Which word is stressed when you say, drinking water, a cleaning woman or a travelling salesman?



1. 'ed' after t and d

When a verb that ends with a 't' or 'd' sound has 'ed' added to it, the last syllable is pronounced as a distinct ‘id’ sound.

Most English speakers from England pronounce it as in ‘did’ but other native English speakers (e.g., U.S., Australia, Canada, NZ) tend to pronounce it as somewhere between ‘did’ and ‘dead’. Nevertheless, it is still clearly heard. For example, here is the North American pronunciation of "graduated": graduated. Most Australians pronounce the ‘id’ sound similar to the North American way, rather than to the English way.

Some examples:

“I graduated last year.”   

“I've always wanted to own a motor cycle.”   

“She hopes to be admitted to Harvard University.”   

“He sounded out the word.”   

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------’ after ‘s’, ‘tʃ’, ‘dʒ’, ‘z’, ‘ʃ’ and ‘ʒ

After these sounds, ‘es’ is pronounced as a distinct Iz’ sound. The same British-American pronunciation variation of ‘ed’ (see above) also applies with this sound, with the Australians and New Zealanders especially pronouncing it close to, əz.

Some examples:

“He has three businesses.”   

“She exercises every morning.”  

“She washes her clothes every weekend.”  

“He fixes bicycles for a living.”  

“She usually watches TV before going to bed.”  


3.When ‘o’ is pronounced as ʌ

There are several words in English that are spelled with an ‘o’ but pronounced as ‘ʌ’ as in ‘cup’. 

Here is a list of some of these. 

Words marked with 注意 are commonly mispronounced in China.



among   注意

monger (not common for IELTS)

amongst  注意



monk but the place where monks live is called a monastery (Br.) and monastery (U.S.)









company   注意


covenant (not common for IELTS)



onion   注意




oven   注意  But stove is different.

dove (a bird)









stomach   注意






tonne (This is the metric system version of 'ton')

mum (Br. spelling) mom (US spelling)



wonder  wonderful  wondrous



     Make sure that you can pronounce 'clothes' correctly. Do not pronounce it as clo-this”. There are two correct pronunciations. The pronunciation that most English speakers use is kləʊðz”. This is hard for many Chinese to pronounce and is even hard for some English speakers and that is why there is a second acceptable pronunciation. The second pronunciation is kləʊz, just as in the first but you leave out the ðsound. It sounds the same as ‘close’ in, “Please close the door.”

     Similarly, if you can't say ‘months’ as “mʌnθs, just change the ‘θ’ sound to ‘t’. Strictly speaking, that pronunciation is not correct but it sounds much better than saying mon-this” (mʌn-θəs”). 



       Modern’ is not pronounced as ‘morden’. 



This word is pronounced with the stress on the first syllable, /me/, not on the second syllable, //:

mechanism  /ˈmekəˌnɪz(ə)m/

But mechanical, /mɪˈkænɪk(ə)l/ or /məˈkænɪk(ə)l/, does have the stress on the second syllable.


7.Woman’ and ‘women

Many people mispronounce ‘women’– they confuse it with ‘woman’. Here are the two pronunciations:

woman =  /ˈwʊmən/ as in, “one woman”

women /ˈwɪmɪn/ (Br.) or /ˈwɪmən/ (other than British English) as in,two women  



Graduated’ is pronounced with the word stress (重音) on the first syllable/ˈɡrædʒuˌeɪtɪd/, not /ɡrædʒuˈtɪd/

[Test yourself on the pronunciation of the following words by first guessing the pronunciation and then listening to the correct pronunciation by clicking on the word – graduated, communicated, complicated, sophisticated. If you got the pronunciation wrong (if you got the the stress pattern wrong) for any of those words, then this new page will explain how to avoid this error – The_'ate'_verbs.htm]

graduate This word is pronounced differently, depending on whether it is the noun or the verb.

Here are two more recordings of the verb and noun, ‘graduate’.

verb: to graduate (ˈɡrædʒueɪt)

noun: a graduate  (ˈɡrædʒuət)

adjective: a graduate student, graduate studies (The pronunciation is the same as the noun: ˈɡrædʒuət). Americans usually use the adjective, graduate but the British usually use, postgraduate. The two mean the same thing.

present participle and verbal noun: graduating

noun: a graduation (ˌɡrædʒuˈʃ(ə)n)



The word, “survey” can be either a noun or a verb.

Noun: survey  /ˈsɜ:(r)veɪStress on the first syllable.

Verb: survey  /sə(r)ˈveɪ/  Stress on the second syllable. Or: survey  /ˈsɜ:(r)veɪ/ Stress on the first syllable.

We see that the verb can also be spoken using the pronunciation of the noun. But the noun never has the verb pronunciation.

See the MacMillan Dictionary.



Industry’ is pronounced with the word stress on the first syllable: /ˈɪndəstri/.

Notice that the second syllable is pronounced as , notdʌ. Another recording is here:

However, the adjective, ‘industrial’ is pronounced as /ɪnˈstriəl/. Another recording is here:


11.Economy’and Related Words

Many people make mistakes, both in writing and speaking, when they try to use any of the words that are related to the word, “economy”. You should spend some time studying these words.

The recordings shown by the cassette icon are British English. For the American pronunciation, click on Listen to the pronunciation of 1economy. Alternatively, you can go to the page 'MW' (for Merriam Webster Dictionary), read the information about the word and then click the Listen to the pronunciation of 1economy icon on that page to hear the American pronunciation. I am including the American pronunciation here for some words where there is a difference between the standard British English and the American because many Australians and people from England do tend to use the American pronunciation for some words. In the case of words related to 'economy', I'm referring here to speaking the first sound as 'e' instead of 'ɪ' – both are possible and both are equally suitable, in my opinion. That is, both pronunciations are suitable for the IELTS test. (In fact, speaking 100% American pronunciation is not considered 'wrong' for the IELTS Speaking test.)

The syllable (音节) that has word stress (重音) is highlighted in yellow.       

Word 中文 Examples Pronunciation Listen
 economy  (国家的) 经济管理; 经济制度  a) China's economy is growing very fast at the moment.

 b) The economy is strong.







Listen to the pronunciation of 1economy



经济学研究者; 经济学家

 She works as an economist with the People's Bank of China.







Listen to the pronunciation of 1economy


 to economize


I really need to economize because I'm spending money faster than I should.







Listen to the pronunciation of 1economy



 economics  经济  I'm studying economics, which I find quite interesting.







Listen to the pronunciation of 1economy Listen to the pronunciation of 1economy



经济的; 经济学的

 I'd say it's both a political and an economic problem.









Listen to the pronunciation of 1economy Listen to the pronunciation of 1economy



节约的; 节俭的

People who live in the desert need to be very economical with water.








Listen to the pronunciation of 1economy



12.Technical’ (and Related Words)

     Another common mistake is to say, “technique” when you really mean, “technical”. Although these two words come from the same ancient Greek word ('techne' = art, craft, skill), they are now quite different in meaning and in pronunciation.

     A technique (tеk /'ni :k  Hear Listen to the pronunciation of 1economy  ) is a method of doing or performing something, especially in the arts and sciences. (尤指艺术或科学方面的) 技法,手法, 技巧Example: applying modern techniques to a traditional craft 将现代技术用于传统手工业Another example: High jumpers adopted a new technique in the 1960's, which allowed them to jump much higher than they used to when they used the old technique.    

    On the other hand, technology’ and the words derived from it are all related to the idea of 科技 or 技术, as shown in the table below.


Word 中文 Examples Pronunciation Listen

科技; 共艺及应用科学 (如工程技术); 工艺学; 工程学


I think one reason why people are living longer nowadays is the fact that medical technology has advanced a lot in the last few decades.






技术 ()

a) a major technological breakthrough (主要的技 突破)

b) technological changes (上的改)






technical 技术的,专科的,艺术的,工艺的,技艺的,技巧的

a) He's a musician with great technical skill but he doesn't play with much feeling.

b) I don't really understand the technical language in this report.






technician 技术人员,技师,工艺师

There's one research student working in this laboratory and he's supported by three lab technicians who help him with the equipment.





Listen to the pronunciation of 1economy


(= high-tech)


He's got many of the latest hi-tech devices such as an ipod and a new type of cellphone that allows him to watch films on the internet.


haɪ ˈtek



Listen to the pronunciation of 1economy




13.How to Say "You know" when Introducing a New Piece of Information     

There are two ways to say, "You know, ..." because there are two main usages or meanings for, "you know".

  1. Sometimes we say, "You know" with the meaning of, "You already know". In this usage, the word "you" is spoken more emphatically than the word "know". We often speak this way in informal conversation when we are trying to explain something but can't quite find the exact word or words that we want to say. For example, Q: "What's the difference between traditional stories and modern stories?" A: "Well, traditional stories are usually set in the traditional lifestyle that Chinese people had, which was rural, whereas most modern stories have modern, urban settings. As well as that, most traditional stories are either myths that explain natural phenomena such as how the moon came to be in the sky or stories that teach you a moral lesson, ... you know, like teaching people what is good and bad behaviour, such as the story of the boy who cried "wolf". But most modern stories are not myths or moral tales; they just tell a short story, which is often an adventure story or a mystery story, like what we see in a TV program or in a movie."

    It's very suitable, and very natural to include "like", "something like", "similar to", "what I mean is" or "such as" when using "you know" this way.

    A similar usage of "you know" meaning "you already know", but one that would not be used in the IELTS Speaking test very often, is shown in this example: "Where did you buy that?" "You know! I told you yesterday; I bought it at Carrafour."


  2. When you introduce a new fact, you can say, "you know" but you should say it almost as "y' know", with more stress on the word, "know", not on the word, "you". In other words, the word, "you" should not be spoken emphatically when you are introducing a new piece of information. For example: "You know, I've only been living in Beijing for the past three years, so I don't know the city as well as I know my hometown."

The following audio recording shows you the two ways to say, "you know": When introducing a new piece of information, the second way is the correct way.


14. When and when not to emphasize the word, "some".

The word, "some" has two main meanings or usages:

1) "some" = "a few but not many" (or, "a little but not much") (一些) and,

2) "some" = "a few of this group but not all" (有的).

  1. Here is an example of "some" = "a few but not many" (or, "a little but not much"). "What did you see in the park?" "I saw some people, some dogs, some trees, some grass and some flowers." When we speak a sentence like that, the "some" is not emphasized and, in fact can be spoken very quickly in a short way that sounds like, "s'm". Instead, it is the noun that follows the word "some" that is emphasized.

         Here are some recordings: some, some money.

  1. This second usage, where "some" = "a few of this group but not all",  is spoken with the word "some" emphasized because it has a contrast (对比) meaning. For example: "The topic of climate change is quite controversial at the moment. Some experts even predict that the world is now starting to enter a prolonged cold period." It is incorrect to speak that sentence with the emphasis on the word, "experts", i.e., "Some experts even predict ..." Here's a recording showing this usage: "some of us" (but not all of us).

The following words also follow the same logic of this second usage: someday, somehow, somebody, someone, someplace, something, sometime, sometimes, somewhere (= someplace). In these words, the prefix "some" has the meaning of "a certain" or "a particular", such as "someday" = "a particular day, but I don't know exactly which day."

The word, "somewhat" is spoken the same as these words but it can also be spoken this way, "somewhat" (similar to pronunciation 1 or with equal emphasis on both words) because the meaning is, "to some degree but not to a large degree".


15. When and when not to emphasize the word, "self".

The word (the suffix), "self" is used in the following words: myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself and in the plural forms, ourselves, yourselves, themselves.

Sometimes the suffix, "self" (or "selves") is spoken with strong stress and sometimes it is not.

  1. When "self" and "selves" are not spoken with strong emphasis

"Self" and "selves" are not emphasized when these words are used in a reflexive way. "Reflexive" (反身的) means the verb is reflected back onto the person or thing that is the subject of the sentence, i.e., the person or thing who does the verb. For example: "He fell over and hurt himself". In that sentence, the verb "hurt" is spoken with the strongest emphasis; the suffix "self" in the word, "himself" is not emphasized.

Many verbs can be used reflexively. For example, there are many things you can do to yourself such as hit yourself, hurt yourself, cut yourself, burn yourself, injure yourself, help yourself, ask yourself, wash yourself, feed yourself, enjoy yourself, entertain yourself, amuse yourself etc. In all these examples, the verb is spoken stronger than the word "yourself", "myself" etc. [But English does not use "relax yourself" – we simply say, "I like to go for a long, slow walk to relax"; not, "I like to go for a long, slow walk to relax myself".]

  1. When "self" and "selves" are spoken with strong emphasis

The words "self" and "selves" are emphasized when the meaning is, "not done by someone else". This is another example of contrasting stress.

Here are some examples:

"Who wrote that essay for you?" "Nobody! I wrote it myself."

"How do you like my new bookshelf? I made it myself."

A variation of the meaning, "not done by someone else" is "not with/by/for someone else". When we say, "by myself", we are using this meaning. For example: "I prefer to study by myself ." This means, "I prefer to study alone." Another example: "Who did you go to the cinema with?" "Nobody. I went by myself." (= I went alone.)

If you say, "I made the bookshelf by myself" your meaning is, "I made the bookshelf alone." (= There was nobody else with me; I was alone.) This is similar to, but not exactly the same as, "I made the bookshelf myself." (= Nobody else made it. Or: Nobody else helped me to make it.)



16. Which word is stressed when you say, "drinking water", "a cleaning woman" or "a travelling salesman"?

Many people make mistakes when they speak two-word combinations where the first word ends with "ing". On a separate page, you will be able to learn the basic rules for this pronunciation and you will be able to mimic many recordings.

This topic, which is really part of the topic, Word Combination Lists, is a little advanced and is most suitable for students who are already at around Band 6 level, or higher.

Go HERE to read the page.