When I hear how correspondence and correspondents are pronounced, I can not distinguish which word it is, without any context.

Do these two words have the same pronunciation?


1 Answer 1


Such word pairs are called homophones, and yes, these two words sound the same.

Normally, I might vote to close a question asking about homophones, along with a mention that pronunciations can be looked up in a dictionary, so there's no need to discuss the matter here. I probably would have done that, had you asked about pear and pair, or bare and bear; however, in this case, I noticed that the pronunciations listed in the dictionary are not quite the same:

correspondent (ˌkɒrɪˈspɒndənt) (presumably, correspondents would beˌkɒrɪˈspɒndənts)
correspondence (ˌkɒrɪˈspɒndəns)

The two pronunciations look similar, but not identical. So, your broader question is, "Can two words be considered homophones, even when their official pronunciations are not identical?"

I would say the answer to that question is YES, because there are certain letter pairs that are hard to pronounce, and therefore often get elided. Professor Lawler has written about elision in this ELU answer, where someone inquired about the word twenty. It's worth noting that one of the many letter pairs mentioned in that answer is -nt, which is the letter pair causing this homophonic instance. Because the t is hard to pronounce, both words are pronounced as though they ended with -ence, which causes the phenomenon you've been hearing.

  • 1
    I agree with all of this answer, except for the very last sentence. Pronouncing the T isn't hard. What's hard and unnatural is NOT pronouncing the T between an N sound and an (unvoiced) S sound. There are quite a large number of words which end with -ance, -ence, -ants and -ents; and which are invariably pronounced with /ənts/, no matter what the dictionaries say. Commented Oct 12, 2015 at 10:56
  • Not quite right, I'm afraid. (Sorry, I had to downvote.) I'm pretty sure this is the same as governance - governants or once and wants. There's an epenthetic T between the N and T. I've explained it in detail in this answer. (I think it should be closed as a dupe of the questions i linked..??)
    – Void
    Commented Jan 13, 2021 at 18:48

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