In today’s English pronunciation and reading lesson, you will learn how to pronounce ‘world’, which is a commonly mispronounced word. To make sure that the correct pronunciation sticks in your mind, we first have to go through a list of similar words that contain the same vowel sound as ‘world’. Notice that the words in the list have different spellings, but contain the same vowel sound. Watch the lesson video for a demonstration:

Pronunciation Practice Step One

The words in the list below all contain the /ɜː/ vowel. Watch the lesson video and repeat-after-me the pronunciation.

her → Is that her turtle?

learn → Let’s learn some new words.

bird → The early bird catches the worm. (idiom)

turn → Take a turn for the worse. (idiom)

worth → It’s worth its weight in gold. (idiom)

journey → A journey to the centre of the Earth.

In the next part of the lesson, we will practice another group of similar words.

Pronunciation Practice Step Two

The three words below are similar in that they all contain an /ɜː/ vowel that is followed by a dark /l/ sound. Repeat-after-me the pronunciation…

girl → The Girl with a Pearl Earring. (film)

earl → The Earl of Sandwich. (noble title)

whirl → Whirl in a circle.

How to Pronounce ‘World’

We are nearly ready to pronounce the commonly mispronounced word ‘world’, but first we need to practise two words that are spelt completely differently, but sound very similar.

were ▶︎ Notice that in its stressed form, ‘were’ is pronounced /wɜː/

whirl ▶︎ Notice that ‘whirl’ is pronounced like ‘were’, but with a dark /l/ at the end → /wɜːl/

And finally, we have arrived at our destination. We are now ready to pronounce ‘world’!

World ▶︎ Notice that ‘world’ is pronounced like ‘whirl’, but with an extra /d/ at the end → /wɜːld/

Extra Tips for Pronouncing ‘World’

When pronouncing ‘world’ in British English, be sure not to include an ‘o’ sound in its pronunciation. If you are still struggling with the pronunciation of this word, try changing the spelling in your imagination so that it is spelt ‘werld‘ in your mind’s eye. This trick works like magic for many of my students!

Extend Your Learning

▶︎ Study another pronunciation lesson: How to Pronounce “furore”

▶︎ Check your pronunciation of “Edinburgh” is correct; lots of students get this word wrong! Pronounce Edinburgh lesson.

▶︎ Remove this American pronunciation from your English: How to Pronounce “Advertisement”


Jade Joddle grows your confidence and skill to shine when speaking English.

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