Embarrassing English Errors: Salary and Celery

In this episode of Embarrassing English Errors I teach you guys the subtle difference in pronounce between the words Salary and Celery.

Embarrassing English Errors – Salary and Celery

G’day guys. Welcome to this episode of Embarrassing English Errors. I had a question from one of the listeners recently and I’m sorry I can’t remember the name of the person, but hopefully this episode reaches you and hopefully it helps. And the question was regarding the difference in pronunciation between the words “Salary” and “Celery”, “Salary” and “Celery”. So, I’ll go through the definitions of these words first.

“Salary”, the word “Salary” is a noun and it’s a form of periodic payment that you would get, or you would receive, from your employer if you were an employee. So, it’s your pay, the pay you get from your boss. Ah… your weekly salary could be $500. You could have a fortnightly salary, therefore, of $1000. Your monthly salary would be four times your weekly salary, which would be obviously $2000 in this case. And your yearly salary is obviously 52 times your weekly salary. So, that’s “Salary”, “Salary”. It’s your payment, a periodic payment.

“Celery”, on the other hand, “Celery” is another noun but this is a type of plant. So, it’s a type of vegetable that’s eaten. It’s long and fibrous, and in Australia celery tends to be eaten quite often at parties as a healthy treat with peanut butter on it. So, that’s “Celery”. It’s a type of vegetable.

So, I’ll go through the first syllable of each of these words guys. “Sal-“, I couldn’t find too many words that sounded like “Sal-“, that “S-A-L” from the first syllable from the word “Salary”, the money that you get paid, “Sal-“. There’s [there‘re*] two words in American English that I could think of off the top of my head. “Pal”, which is a good friend, “A pal”, a mate, “Pal”, and the word “Gal”, which is “Girl” in American English. She’s my “Gal”, she’s my “Girl”. So, “Pal”, “Gal”, and the word “Shall”, “Shall”, and this is sort of interchangeable with the word “Will”. As in, “I shall do that”, “I will do that”. So:




Words in English that sound like the first syllable of “Celery”, that “C-E-L”, “Celery”:












The second [and third] syllable[s] of “Salary”, your periodic payment:










And the second [and third] syllable[s] of “Celery”, the vegetable, “Celery”:










Shirley [a name]

So that said though, when spoken quickly, “Salary” and “celery” are going to sound pretty much exactly the same, whether it’s the first syllable or the second [and third] syllable[s], and people tend to understand what you’re talking about based on context. If you’re talking about what you’re going to eat people aren’t going to be confused thinking you’re talking about what you’re employer is paying you. And if you’re talking about your wage or your “Salary”, the payment you get from your employer, people aren’t going to get confused thinking you’re talking about the vegetable “Celery”.

So, let’s just go through and do some back to back exercises 10 times here guys where I will try and pronounce the words differently so that you can hear that slight vowel change, slight pronunciation change, between these syllables.

Sal- vs Cel- x 10

-Ary vs -Ery x 10

Salary vs Celery x 10

So, that’s the episode for today guys. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. I know it’s a little confusing. I wouldn’t worry too much about nailing the pronunciation between these two things. As I said, context is almost always going to save you hear where people will understand whether or not you pronounce these words exactly correct they’ll know what you’re talking about. If you have any other words or any other sounds that you’re finding difficult in English then feel free to send me a message on Facebook or put a comment on this post when I put it up, and tell me about the words or the sounds that you’re having trouble with. Until next times guys, all the best!


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