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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.

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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.

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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.

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