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Emma Lily


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Many native English speakers stumble over tricky words in the language, and even they don’t get it right all the time. In some cases, their original meaning has become lost because they have been misused so often.

Another problem is pronouncing words correctly. This problem is not only with English language but also in some hardest languages to learn. The following are ten of the most difficult words in the English language.

1 – Literally

Make sure you stay away from language purists. Misuse of this word can cause blood pressure to rise. Therefore, you cannot say, “I literally died laughing,” or “He was so embarrassed his cheeks literally burned up,” and use the word in the way you think is appropriate.

The Oxford English Dictionary has included a formal use for ‘literally’, which can be used for emphasis, like in the examples above, because of the sheer extent of its incorrect use. You don’t have to tell the Grammar Police!

2 – Irregardless (instead of regardless)

You may hear people say ‘irregardless’ instead of ‘regardless’. Regardless means “without regard” or “despite something” (“He maxed out his credit card regardless of the consequences”).

It sounds like a synonym, but it’s not! As it contains two negatives (the prefix -ir means “not” and the suffix -less means “without”), it means “not without regard” as opposed to what its users intend.

It’s such a headache! It’s a nonstandard word in dictionaries. Consider this to be a reminder: if it appears in a dictionary, it’s listed as such. In other words, although it exists technically, it shouldn’t be used by anyone who has an interest in learning and using English well.

3 – Colonel

Many students mispronounce this word! It’s pronounced co-lo-nel when you look at the word (indicating a rank of officer in the armed forces). Why should you be blamed? However, it is pronounced similarly to a corn kernel (like a corn kernel).

How did ‘colonel’ come to be spelled that way? I guess it’s just another instance of word-swapping throughout time. “Colonel” was borrowed from Italian by the French, who used it as a letter (colonial).

Finally, English grabbed the term for itself, before both the French and English switched back to its original borrowed spelling (and the English to a completely new pronunciation). The Different Languages have different words that pronounced wrongly.

4 – Disinterested

Imagine yourself in court. Would you like a certain type of judge to hear your case? Uninterested judge or disinterested judge? The former is a good choice, I hope! Disinterested judges are far more likely to listen to all sides of your case and rule impartially, whereas uninterested judges would be yawning and checking their phones.

Remember. Someone who is disinterested is not biased and doesn’t take sides, a person who is uninterested is not interested in anything in the first place.

5 – Lieutenant

Here’s another confusing military term! The British and American pronunciation of this word is different. American English pronounces the word lootenant, while British English pronounces leftenant.

The spelling of both locations remain the same – just to keep it interesting! It is becoming increasingly common in other English-speaking countries to hear the US pronunciation.

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