23 Words Most Commonly Mispronounced by Singaporeans

Now don’t get me wrong, Singlish is great. It gets the job done and every Singaporean (and Malaysian) knows what you’re talking about when you speak Singlish. It is super unique and essentially makes us who we are. Singlish is the best.  But it bothers me when English words, not Singlish but English, are mispronounced by Singaporeans. I kinda look like this.


I’m not saying I’m not guilty of committing these errors, I absolutely am. But since there’s no better way to learn for myself and the help other people learn too, here’s a list of 23 words that Singaporeans tend to mispronounce along with their correct pronunciations. 

1. Flour

Singapore Pronunciation: flahr
Correct Pronunciation: flou-er


How to Pronounce Flour Correctly
play button
How to Pronounce Flour Correctly


I think majority of us tend to get this one wrong, I know I’m guilty. Instead of saying it like “flahr” its meant to be pronounced like “flou-er” or flower. Yeah, I know, English is a strange language.


Update: Okay for Singaporeans still in denial about this saying the pronunciation is actually “American” – please go to http://dictionary.cambridge.org/pronunciation/british/flour_1# and play the audio version of the British version. The British distinction is not as clear as the American but you can look at the phonetics and if you listen clearly, its pronounced the same way. FLOWER!

So yes, you’ve been pronouncing it wrong your whole life. But so have we, so don’t worry!

2. Algae

Singapore Pronunciation: el-gay
Correct Pronunciation: al-gee



We see the A at the end of this word and proceed to pronounce it like “el-gay.” (El actually means “the one” in Spanish so pronouncing it like that is like saying “The Gay One.” LOL)

The right way to say it is “al-gee” as in “Oh Ehm Gee, there’s a whole lot of algae in that pond!”


3. Cement

Singapore Pronunciation: see-men
Correct Pronunciation: si-ment



So a lot of people pronounce this like “See-men” when its actually “si-ment.” Needless to say, mispronouncing this one might lead to some VERY awkward situations. 


4. Children

Singapore Pronunciation: chew-ren / cho-dren
Correct Pronunciation: chil-drehn



I’m all for food, but chewing people really does not sound like a good idea.


5. Divorce

Singapore Pronunciation: die-vos
Correct Pronunciation: di-vors



Yeah, divorce is a really horrid thing and you might feel like you’re dying but that’s no reason to call it “die-vos”. Lets all agree to stick to “di-vors,” okay? Okay.


6. Lingerie

Singapore Pronunciation: ling-ger-rie
Correct Pronunciation: lon-zhurh-rey



Okay this one is a bit tricky so if you mispronounce it, like I do, you’re forgiven. Maintaining that English is a strange language, this one isn’t pronounced “ling-ger-rie” which is obviously how it looks. Tap into your inner pretentious French speaker and say it like “lon-zhuhr-rey”.


7. Opportunity

Singapore Pronunciation: o-por-tunity
Correct Pronunciation: op-uh-tyoo-nuh-tee



This is an example of one that gets on my nerves. Instead of “o-pour-tunity” it should be pronounced “op-uh-tyoo-nuh-tee”. The incorrect pronunciation honestly makes my skin crawl.


8. Prayer

Singapore Pronunciation: pray-er
Correct Pronunciation: prair



Nope its not “pray-er” its “prair”. Why is there a Y? Yeah, I don’t quite know either.

9. Salmon

Singapore Pronunciation: sal-mon
Correct Pronunciation: sam-uhn



Another word with a completely redundant letter, instead of “sal-mon” it should be pronounced “sam-uhn.” Ever wonder who makes these rules?


10. Sugar

Singapore Pronunciation: su-ger
Correct Pronunciation: shoog-er



I don’t tend to come across this mispronunciation often but its pretty common. The S is sugar is meant to be pronounced as an Sh sound so instead of “su-ger” it should be “shoog-er”.

Just imagine you’re trying to shush that “ah girl” up. “Shoo girl” but without the L.


11. Tuition

Singapore Pronunciation: tu-tion
Correct Pronunciation: too-ish-uhn



Its important to get this word pronounced properly, seeing as its on the lips of every locally educated person. Its “too-ish-uhn” instead of “tu-tion”.

12. Women

Singapore Pronunciation: woo-men
Correct Pronunciation: wim-in



Nope, we ladies are not trying to “woo-men.” It should be pronounced “wim-in.” Keep that in mind so the next time you face a tough lady, you won’t experience a serious beat down.


13. Colleague



Singapore Pronunciation: Ker-ligg
Correct Pronunciation: Call-leeg

This could save you from some embarrassment at an international meeting/office.

And dis is my ker-ligg Ah Beng.

14. Probably



Singapore Pronunciation: Problee/Prolly
Correct Pronunciation: Prob-buh-blee

Same problem with ‘properly’. But hey, what’s wrong with a little convenience?


15. Hotel



Singapore Pronunciation: Horh-tell
Correct Pronunciation: Hoe-tell


Where dem hoes at?

16. Excuse me



Singapore Pronunciation: Eskew me
Correct Pronunciation: ax-kews me


Every Singaporean’s short-lived attempt at being polite at the MRT station.

17. Subtle



Singapore Pronunciation: Sub-terh
Correct Pronunciation: Suh-tuhl

Silent b guys. Also, don’t forget the l at the end! This is a super common mistake across the board of ‘bt’s like ‘debt’.

18. Sword



Singapore Pronunciation: Sward
Correct Pronunciation: Sord


19. Abalone


How to pronounce abalone
play button
How to pronounce abalone


Singapore Pronunciation: Ab-alone
Correct Pronunciation:Ab-alon-ee

The ‘e’ isn’t silent! Don’t ask me why it’s silent in ‘alone’ but articulated in ‘abalone’. And I’m just saying, but pretty sure the abs made the difference.

20. Film



Singapore Pronunciation: Flim/fillum
Correct Pronunciation: Fil-m

Can’t help but wonder if this is just some classic ‘i’/’l’ confusion taken one step too far.

21. Yellow



Singapore Pronunciation: Yah-low
Correct Pronunciation: Yeh-low

Okay this one is important because if yah-low becomes accepted in the future then there will be no more ‘yellow yellow dirty fellow rhymes’. It’s just not the same.

22. Wednesday


How to pronounce Wednesday
play button
How to pronounce Wednesday


Singapore Pronunciation: Wen-ness-day
Correct Pronunciation: Wens-day

Did you know that Wednesday is also known as hump day? So if in future you forget which is the right pronunciation, just say ‘hump day’.

But before you start giggling like a prepubescent teenage boy, know that this ‘hump’ is a noun (not a verb) that refers to getting over the first half of the work week.

23. Nasi Lemak

Singapore Pronunciation: Na-si Loh-mak
Correct Pronunciation: Na-si Le-mak

Eh this one is our local food leh. Can we at least say this one propply not??

Never make these mistakes again

There you have it, 23 words that Singaporeans tend to mispronounce. The next time you visit a foreign country, you’ll never encounter another awkward situation where you think you’re speaking perfect English but the other person still has no idea what you’re saying.

But it’s all these little Singaporean quirks that make living here so great! So while it’s useful to know proper English for when the time calls for it, Singlish serves a great purpose in forming our national identity, and to everyone who has a problem with speaking Singlish as a casual everyday language…

justbecauseucantunderstand.gifSource: giphy

What are other words Singaporeans mispronounce? Let us know in the comments below!

I can read minds. You will also like:

10 Things to Know About Dating an Independent Singaporean Girl
10 Things to Know About Dating an Independent Singaporean Girl

broken heart
20 Singaporean Street Names And The Fascinating Stories Behind Them

Free Things To Do In Singapore
50 Fun And Free Things To Do In Singapore

10 Types of Guys you will date
10 Types of Singaporean Guys You Will Date In Your Life

singapore boyfriend
15 Signs Your Singaporean Boyfriend is Your Soulmate

Unique Cafes
33 Ultra Unique Themed Cafes You Have to See to Believe

Drop us your email so you won't miss the latest news.