Three Business English Words that are So Tough for Spanish and Portuguese Speakers!

Learning English stress and cadence can be hard enough for many Spanish and Portuguese speakers (especially when learning how to pronounce the English alphabet at the same time!), but correctly using English stress in advanced business English words is even harder!

Below are 3 of the toughest common business English words for Spanish and Portuguese speakers to pronounce and some tips on how to say and use them.  Read, listen, and practice so you can sound confident when speaking in English while using even the most difficult business English words!

1. "Entrepreneurial" ("emprendedor"/"empreendedor")

Why it’s hard to say: It's six syllables!-- [en-tre-pre-NEUR-i-al]-- with a primary stress on the fourth syllable (NEUR) and a secondary stress on the first syllable (en).  Additionally, the vowel in the fourth syllable (NEUR) actually sounds like there's a /y/ and a /u/ in there instead: (NYUR).

Listen up and practice!

When you might use it: To describe someone who is innovative and can get new projects or initiatives "off the ground." Or, to talk about a new, creative approach or project an existing business is taking, or, most commonly, a new business, or a "start up." 

  • He has a real entrepreneurial spirit! He likes the challenges that come with getting new products out the door!"
  • “While our company is very established, we don't have a reputation for being entrepreneurial. That's why we need some fresh blood and new faces in here!"

2. "Characteristic" ("la caracteristica"/"a caracteristicica") 

Why it’s hard to say: Where as in "character" the stress is on the first syllable, the primary stress is on the fourth syllable for "characteristic": [cha-ract-te-RIST-ic].  Of course, make sure to remember that the /ch/ here is actually a /k/ sound too!

Listen up and practice!

When you might use it: To talk about the traits and qualities of people, such as during a job interview or hiring process. 

  • “I would say that my strongest characteristics are my work ethic and dependability."
  • “As we go about filling the position, let's make sure to interview people with characteristics that fit our company culture." 

3. "Dependability" ("confiable"/"a confiabilidade")

Why it’s hard to say: Another six-syllable word, the stress here falls right on the 2nd syllable: [de-PEN-da-bil-i-ty], so you have three unstressed syllables that follow that need to be short and sweet!

Listen up and practice!

When you might use it: This is a characteristic or attribute that you want to see in your colleagues and that your employer (or future employer) definitely wants to see in you!

  • “Trustworthiness and dependability are the characteristics that I pride myself the most on."
  • “Let's make sure to expand the team with folks that we know are dependable and will get the job done!"

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