English is not my native language. I read much more than I speak or hear. In fact, the only time I hear English being spoken is when I'm at my lectures in college or watching a movie.

However, I read a lot, and I know how to words are spelt but don't know how they are enunciated.

For example, I have long know the word "lingerie", having come across it in my reading, but only recently knew that it was pronounced "lawngzere" and not "lingerie".

So how do I know how a word in pronounced just by looking at it's letters on a page?


2 Answers 2


You don't. It's simply not possible, and the best you can do is guess. This problem affects native speakers as well, and there is no way around it. For instance, my sister used to think "scourge" was pronounced like "courage" with an s on the front.


If you know the word, you can go to http://dictionary.cambridge.org and you write the word and press the US audio symbol and you will hear how to pronounce it. For example, I look to leather: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/es/diccionario/ingles/leather But let me say you that English is different to other languages like Spanish, there is not a way to know how to pronounce it only by looking at the word. In Spanish there are rules named "Agudas" "Graves" and "Esdrujulas" that you can look at a word and know where is the accent, but in English you need to know it because of the pronunciation.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .