Smoothtalk Logo
Quick Pronounce Tool

How To Pronounce Engineer

The word engineer is frequently pronounced by native Hindi speakers in a way that is very different than how native American English (AE) speakers pronounce it. Engineer is derived from combining the noun engine with the suffix -eer. When AE speakers pronounce words that have two syllables and end in -eer, the syllables in those words are emphasized differently. Let's look at the pronunciation of engine and then see how that compares to how engineer is pronounced.

Pronouncing Engine

Let's start with the pronunciation of the word engine. First, we need to understand its syllable structure. When American English speakers pronounce it, this word is pronounced with two syllables. Let's take a look at each syllable.

First Syllable of Engine

The first syllable of engine is en. This syllable is a stressed syllable, meaning it is emphasized by making it longer, louder, and giving it a higher pitch.

90% of two-syllable nouns are stressed on the first syllable, and this is one of them. We can predict that this syllable will be stressed because it is a strong syllable, not a weak one. We know that this syllable is a strong syllable because it ends in a consonant, and syllables that end in consonants are strong syllables. Since the first syllable of engine is a strong syllable in a two-syllable noun, when we pronounce the first syllable it gets more emphasis that the second syllable. It is longer, and louder, and has a higher pitch.

Native Hindi speakers often give this syllable emphasis as well, and when saying the first syllable of engine they often use a different vowel than AE speakers. Instead of , they often use when pronouncing "en".

Second Syllable of Engine

The second syllable of engine is gine. This syllable is unstressed. A stressed syllable must be followed by an unstressed syllable, so we know that this is an unstressed syllable. Native Hindi speakers often pronounce this syllable with a different vowel than native AE speakers. Instead of using , their pronunciation of this word often uses a vowel more similar to .

Pronouncing Engineer

The word engineer has three syllables. American English speakers segment these words like:

en-gi-NEER

The last syllable of this word gets emphasis, and the first two syllables get less stress.

This word is often pronounced by native Hindi speakers with stress on the first syllable.

EN-gi-neer

Additionally, the second syllable often ends in n. Let's take a look at each syllable and the differences in how a native American English speaker might say them vs how a Hindi speaker might say them.

First Syllable

In both cases, both speakers will pronounce the engineer with a first syllable of "en", which has a vowel and ends with an n. Hindi speakers are likely to use the vowel , while AE speakers pronounce "en" with the vowel.

The American English syllable pronunciation is:

εn

Whereas the Hindi speaker's pronunciation likely look like:

en

As you see, there is a difference in the vowel used.

Second Syllable

There are some differences in the structure of how an native AE speaker and a native Hindi speaker would pronounce the second syllable.

For American English speakers, the syllable will be:

Whereas for Hindi speakers, the syllable will likely be:

gin

For Hindi speakers, this syllable generally ends in n. For AE speakers, it doesn't. The vowel used is often different. AE speakers use , while Hindi speakers will likely use . AE speakers, this syllable also has less stress than the first syllable, but Hindi speakers, this syllable generally has the same amount of stress as the first syllable. This makes the first two syllables sound similar to how the syllables are stressed in engine to the AE speaker's ear.

Make sure when you are pronouncing this syllable, that you are making this an unstressed syllable. It should be shorter, quieter, and have a lower pitch. Additionally, make sure you do not pronounce the second syllable with a n at the end. It should end in .

Third Syllable

There are also some differences to the structure of the third syllable of this word.

For Hindi speakers, the syllable will likely be:

ir

For American English speakers, the syllable will likely be:

niɹ

The syllable receives the most stressed when it is pronounced. Since the word engineer is formed by combining engine with the suffix -eer, a stress-shifting suffix, the stress has changed from the first syllable to the third syllable. If a word has been formed using the -eer suffix, that word will be stressed on the last syllable. There are other words like it that end in -eer such as career and volunteer. When words that have more than one syllable end in -eer, they syllable containing -eer receives the most emphasis in the word. If you are curious for more information on suffixes that change which syllable is stressed, check out our guide to pronouncing words with suffixes.

Since the second syllable is pronounced ending with the n sound, the final syllable is pronounced starting with a vowel. Additionally, this syllable receives similar emphasis to the other syllables, and is not emphasized when pronounced.

To pronounce engineer more similarly to an American, pronounce it with emphasis on the last syllable. eer should be longer and louder than the other two syllables. En, the first syllable, should have more emphasis than the second syllable, gi. The second syllable should definitely have the least emphasis. When engineer is pronounced by a native AE speaker, the stress on the first and second syllables does not sound similar to how engine is pronounced.

Adding Suffixes

What about engineered and engineering? -ed and -ing are examples of non-stress-shifting suffixes. When you add them to a word, the same stress should remain, and the new suffix should be unstressed.

So, for an American English speaker, the most stressed syllable will be the third syllable, eer. For engineering, the word is segmented like so:

en-gi-NEER-ing

The phonetic transcription for the pronunciation is:

engi'niɹiŋ

An AE speaker will pronounce engineered with three syllables segmented like:

en-gi-NEERD

The phonetic transcription for the pronunciation is:

engi'niɹd

Summary

AE speakers pronounce engine with emphasis on the first syllable. They also use different vowels than Hindi native speakers often use. When AE speakers pronounce the word engineer, the syllable that has the most emphasis is the last syllable.

Hindi speakers often pronounce engineer without shifting the stress. To AE speakers, it sounds like "EN-gin-eer" when AE speakers are expecting to hear "en-gin-EER", like the word engine with something unexpected tacked onto the end of it, instead of a particular profession. When you are pronouncing the word engine, it should start with a stressed first syllable, but when you are pronouncing the word engineer, the third syllable should be stressed. When saying the words engineering and engineered, the third syllable should get the most stress as well.


© 2020