This article first appeared on Primer.com.
Don’t worry, I won’t waste your time with the elementary school lessons about how to accurately pronounce “library,” “February,” or “arctic”—although I will note that if you’re discussing a library and still dropping the first “r,” there’s a very good chance that your friends and/or colleagues are laughing behind your back.
I won’t trouble you with a lecture covering how some of the words you use actually aren’t words at all. If you’re using words like “snuck,” “brang,” or “irregardless” (none of those are real words), an article—much less one written by me—is not going to solve your problems.
What I will do is offer up a rudimentary form of help, in terms of how to properly pronounce relatively common words that are bound to show up in your daily life. These tips will not seal the deal in a job interview or on a date (I can especially vouch for the “date” scenario), but if mispronunciation has been a potential chink in your armor, your problems will soon be solved.