Strange English spellings




Today is a day when I address some things about our beautiful, interesting, but strange language.

There are many words in English that are spelled the same but pronounced differently. Also there are words pronounced the same, but spelled differently. Then there are words that are the same in spelling and pronunciation but have different meanings, depending on context.

The strangest, in my opinion, are words ending in -ough.

We have:

 Though, pronounced ‘tho’
 Bough, pronounced ‘bow’. (although that in itself has different pronunciations)
 Enough, pronounced ‘enuf’
 Thought, pronounced ‘thort’
 Through, pronounced ‘threw’

No wonder foreigners have some difficulty with it, although (another one, similar to ‘though’, here) it seems they are able to manage quite well if the number of foreigners who speak the language extremely well is anything to go by.

I was in an Italian restaurant in Germany and was greatly amused to see the German waiter speaking to a French customer in English. This also happened when I was in Croatia. The Croatian receptionist spoke to a visitor I think was Russian in English. These strange inconsistencies seem not to faze them, even if they confuse some native speakers!

7 thoughts on “Strange English spellings”

    1. Some other languages are like that too. Welsh, for example. Once you’ve mastered the ‘ll’ sound, and realised some other sounds are dufferent from English (w is pronounced oo, u is like i and y a bit like u, for example) you can pronounce any Welsh word. The problem with English comes about because we’ve borrowed words from many languages.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Half, calf, laugh 🙂
    I used to use examples like these to make my students understand the ease of Spanish pronunciation.
    Also, small variations, allow English words to be readily used when it comes to Fantasy. We can create words for our fantasy worlds that bear a similarity and convey the same meaning.


    1. Very true, Ernesto, except that your examples only work in the south of England. In the north, where I come from, laugh is pronounced laff. 🙂

      I go with the relative simplicity of Spanish pronunciation, having learned a little of your language. Also, although initially it seems difficult, Welsh is another language where the pronunciation is regular. Once you’ve got the pronunciation of ll, and the fact that u is pronounced as i, y is more like u, w is oo etc, it’s quite straightforward. I often wonder at how different languages have different pronunciations for the same letter or combination of letters. Take Italian. There ch is pronounced as English hard c, while c before i or e is pronounced as English ch.


      1. Sorry, I’m not up on regional accents of the U.K. My example was based on American-English pronunciation.
        “…a little of your language.” My native language is English (if you believe New Yorkers actually speak English) 🙂


        1. Sorry for making assumptions, Ernesto. unforgivanble of me. I realise regional accents can be difficult. I’d be the same in the US. No criticism intended, just a comment! 😕


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