I wonder how to pronounce "reference"? Google says it with "re" but "refer" is with "ri". I never learned it properly but when I use this word I always say it with "ri" to follow the pronunciation of "refer".

What is right? What pronunciation is used in which country or region (btw we have "ri" here as well 😄)? Especially the way british people say it is important for me.

closed as off-topic by Brian Tompsett - 汤莱恩, ColleenV, Catija, Peter, Varun Nair Jun 21 '16 at 5:37

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.


It is often the case in English that words which are clearly related, but differ in their number of syllables, have different stress, and sometimes different vowels. Consider "reside" vs "residence".

One particular process which is applicable here (and in 'residence') is Tri-syllabic laxing, which usually "laxes" a vowel before an unstressed syllable and another syllable. This causes both "reference" and "residence" to have /ɛ/ rather than /ᵻ/ in their first syllable.


There is a small number of English words where the word is pronounced differently depending on what form it is: for example, the verb form and the noun form. One example is the word rebel: as a noun, it is pronounced /ˈreb.əl/ and as a verb is pronounced /rɪˈbel/.

Refer is similar: the verb form is /rɪˈfɜːr/ and, although there is no noun form, reference is a noun form and is pronounced /ˈref.ər.əns/.

If in doubt, consult an online dictionary such as the Cambridge dictionary, which offers both phonetic and audio recordings of words. It also offers both English and American pronunciation.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.