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5 Words That Can Be Pronounced In Two Different Ways

August 12, 2021    7 min read

You may have heard many words pronounced differently by different people. Sometimes it has to do with their nationalities, states or even just how they have most often heard it pronounced. While some may be incorrect, many a time, there are words that are pronounced multiple ways. Before you think they are homonyms, homophones or homographs, let’s understand what each of those are and you will realise it is none of that!

Homophones are words that sound the same but are different in meaning or spelling (to/two/too). Homographs are spelled the same but differ in meaning (wind (to follow a course that is not straight)/wind (a gust of air)). Homonyms can be either or even both!

But what do you call a word that can be pronounced two ways? In today’s Language Fun post, we look at 5 English words that can be pronounced two ways. Both are right and can be used. So, let’s get to it and see what words can be pronounced two different ways.

  1. Data: DAY-tuh & DAH-tuh
    You may have heard this common word - Data meaning information which is said in two ways. It can be pronounced as DAY-tuh where the first syllable is said as in ‘day’ or DAH-tuh where the first syllable can be said as ‘dah’ as in Darjeeling.

  2. Laboratory: luh-BOR-uh-tree & LAB-uh-ruh-tor-ee
    You can stress the second syllable: luh-BOR-uh-tree as they do with British English or if American, you can stress the first syllable: LAB-uh-ruh-tor-ee. This is similar to other words such as “aluminum” and “vitamin” which stress different syllables based on which English is followed.

  3. Route: Root & R-ou-t
    Here’s another a word that can be pronounced two ways. Again, depending on where you are, you would hear this word said in two different ways. Either Root as in that of a plant/tree or R-ou-t where the ‘ou’ is said as you would in ‘out’. Both are correct and can be used.

  4. Read: Reed & Red
    This one can be tricky and depending on the context of where it is used, also changes in meaning. When said as Reed it is the verb, whereas when said as Red is the past tense of the same verb. Sometimes while reading, this word can be confusing to pronounce but once you understand the situation in which it is used, can be correctly pronounced.

  5. Live: L-I-v & Liv
    Another tricky word that is said differently in different contexts, is live. L-I-v where ‘I’ is said as in the proper noun I, means that something that is going on at present or alive. Liv where the I is said as in Practically, is a shorter sound and means the verb to live. This one too requires the context to correctly pronounce the word.

We hope you enjoyed that list of words that can be said two ways. There are many other such words which can be pronounced two different ways but have same the spelling and meaning which are used. While there are some commonly mispronounced words like pronunciation (ironic!) because of the lack of ‘o’ that many are not aware of, cupboard has a silent ‘p’ and many more, some words may sound wrong to you but are not.

For more such fun and informative language-based articles, keep coming back to the Practically blog. Visit the Practically app for lifelike 3D videos, simulations and AR. Download the app now and see for yourself!

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