Mispronouncing Words as English Swear Words

So many students in the past have come to me and said ‘I avoid the words ‘sheet’ and ‘beach’ because I’m worried I’ll swear!”. 

Does this sound familiar? Is this something you’ve thought about before?

Which English words can be mispronounced as swear words? Many non-native English speakers mispronounce the following words and they sound like English swear words – sheet, beach, piece, peace, coke and can’t. Find out how to avoid swearing when saying these words.

There are some words in English that are very similar to swear words.

So similar in fact, that it’s usually the difference between a short vowel and a long vowel.

I had a client once who said “OK, so I was in McDonalds the other day and when I ordered the person behind me and the person serving me cracked up. I have no idea why!”

When we went through what was said we realised why the native English speakers were in stitches (this means ‘cracking up’ or laughing a lot)!

It was because a he had said ‘I want a small coke’ but has pronounced it as ‘c*ck’. Whoops!

Which English words are often mispronounced as swear words? Pronouncing English vowels is challenging for many Many non-native speakers a‘sh*t’ instead of ‘sheet’, ‘b*tch’ instead of ‘beach’, ‘p*iss’ instead of ‘piece’ and ‘c*nt’ instead of ‘can’t.

Other clients are worried about saying ‘sh*t’ instead of ‘sheet’, ‘b*tch’ instead of ‘beach’, ‘p*iss’ instead of ‘piece’ and ‘c*nt’ instead of ‘can’t.

They are all the difference between a long vowel and short vowel or a single vowel and a double vowel.

This page is to help you avoid embarrassing mispronunciations like these. Read on to correct these words and avoid swearing!

Practise These Words TO Avoid Swearing

So, let’s go through the problem words one by one! Achtung!! These are in order of BADNESS!! 


How to pronounce ‘piece’ & peace’ and ‘piss’

How to pronounce ‘piece’ & ‘peace’. Did you know that ‘piece’ & ‘peace’ are pronounced exactly the same way. This is called a ‘homophone’ – words that are pronounced the same way but have different spelling or meaning. 

So for pronouncing ‘peace’ and ‘piece’, the key is to get a long vowel. The vowel needed is the long single vowel /i:/.  

Many other languages don’t have this vowel! As a result, many non-native make a short vowel instead of the long vowel /i:/. So, for the long vowel /i:/ the mouth position is pretty much the same as /ɪ/ like in ‘hit’ and ‘fit’.

Practise out loud:





‘Piss’ is pronounced with the short vowel /ɪ/.  Like in ‘hit’, ‘tick’ and ‘lid’. 

Try pronouncing them out loud one after the other. 

piece (long vowel)

piss (short vowel)

piece (long vowel)

piss (short vowel)

There is actually an expression with both the words ‘piece’ and ‘piss’ in it. It’s a very casual expression so you wouldn’t usually hear it around the office or in the workplace.  

The expression is a ‘piece of piss’. We say this when something is easy to achieve or easy to do. 

For example, you might hear someone say:

‘Was the exam hard?’ and someone might answer ‘No. It was a piece of piss’. Meaning, it was easy. 

‘Is it hard to find?’ and someone might answer ‘No. It’s a piece of piss’. Meaning it’s not hard at all, it’s easy.  

Try these phrases with a long vowel in ‘peace / piece’.

I’d like a piece please.  (note that ‘piece’ and ‘please’ have the same vowel. 

It’s a peaceful place. 

How many pieces do you want?

The word ‘pissed’ has a very different meaning in the US to Australia. In the US, if you say someone is ‘pissed’  it means they are really annoyed or angry about something. In Australia it means they are drunk.


How to pronounce ‘sheet’ and ‘shit’

I have had students who work in hospitality say to me ‘I am so nervous to say the word ‘sheet’ because I know it sounds like ‘shit’! How can I fix this!

The problem here is the same as for ‘peace’ and ‘piss’. It’s the long vowel /i:/.

You need a long single vowel in ‘sheet’. 

Try them out loud now. 

/i:/ (eeee)

/i:/ (eeee)


sheet (long vowel)

sheet (long vowel)

And now the short vowel and the long vowel one after the other. 

shit (short vowel)

sheet (long vowel)

shit (short vowel)

sheet (long vowel)

And now practise ‘sheet’ in some sentences:

Is this your sheet?

Would you like me to change your sheets?

Can you pass me a sheet of paper please?   


How to pronounce ‘beach’ and ‘bitch’

This is the same problem as the words we’ve already covered. The problem is with the long vowel /i:/ and people making a short vowel instead of a long vowel. 

Beach and beech are pronounced in the same way, so they are ‘homophones’. A ‘beech’ is a type of tree. Try ‘beach’ out loud now, focusing on making a long /i:/ vowel. 

/i:/ (eeee)

/i:/ (eeee)


beach (long vowel)

beach (long vowel)

And now the short vowel and the long vowel one after the other. 

b*tch (short vowel)

beach (long vowel)

b*tch (short vowel)

beach (long vowel)

And now practise ‘beach’ in some sentences:

Are you going to the beach? 

I’d love to go to the beach. 

How far it is to the beach?

Practise these one after the other. Feel the long vowel /i:/ in each word.  

peace / piece



How to pronounce ‘coke’ and ‘c*ck’

I hear this one all the time!

‘c*ck’ is a rude name for a penis. Lots of people like to drink ‘coke’ so you don’t really want to mix the two up – it can lead to some pretty embarrassing situations like the one I mentioned earlier at McDonalds. 

The problem here is that many non-native English speakers pronounce the diphthong or double vowel /oʊ/ as a single vowel. 

Many other languages don’t have the vowel /oʊ/, so it’s a challenging one for many non-native speakers. 

The vowel /oʊ/ is made of two vowels, joined together.

See the mouth positions in the image below.  

Try them out loud now.




coke /koʊk/ (double vowel)

coke /koʊk/ (double vowel)

And now the short vowel and the long vowel one after the other. 

c*ck (short vowel /o/)

coke (double vowel)

c*ck (short vowel /o/)

coke (double vowel)

And now practise ‘coke’ in some sentences:

I’d like a coke please.

Would you like coke or juice?

Do you drink coke?

See the quick video below on improving your /oʊ/ vowel in the word ‘coke’ to avoid saying ‘c*ck’.


How to pronounce ‘can’t’ and ‘c*nt’

Ok so this one is the worst swear word in English. I recommend you don’t use it. 

Obviously can’t is a word that we use very often. So, how can you make sure you’re pronouncing ‘can’t correctly. 

In the US, ‘can’t’ is pronounced with the short vowel /æ/ like in /kænt/. 

In Australia it’s pronounced with the long vowel /a:/ like ‘can’t’. 

In the UK you’ll find speakers using both of the above. 

So, what do we need to do.

If you are aiming for US style English, make sure you make a good /æ/ vowel. It’s the same vowel as in the words ‘back’ and ‘pat’. Make sure you aren’t using the short vowel /ʌ/ like in ‘up’ and ‘luck’. 

If you’re aiming for Australian English, make sure you use a long vowel /a:/. Make sure you aren’t using the short vowel /ʌ/ like in ‘up’ and ‘luck’. 

Try them out loud now. 

can’t (long vowel)

can’t (long vowel)

And now practise ‘can’t’ in some sentences:

We can’t go. 

You can’t be serious. 

I can’t believe it!

 Watch this video to help you pronounce the words covered and avoid swearing in English. 

Which English Swear Words Are The Worst 

It’s hard to get a handle on just how much weight words have when you’re learning a second language. 

It’s best to stay on the conservative side with swearing. If in doubt – leave it out!
Take note on what swear words people use around you and when. You” soon notice that most people who swear, only do so with certain people and in certain situations.

Swearing definitely has its place.

According to this research article (People Who Curse a Lot Are Smarter and Have a Better Vocabulary Than Those Who Don’t), people who swear a lot may be more intelligent. Too funny! I think it may be simplifying things just a tad, but as someone who is fond of the odd cussing session, it’s a fun read.


I hope you’ve found this article helpful.

It will help you avoid swearing by accident when saying the words: piece, peace, beach, sheet, can’t and coke!

Keep up the great work. 







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English Pronunciation – Avoid Swearing By Accident


Georgie Harding has assisted thousands of people from all over the world with improving their clarity and spoken English skills. A Speech Pathology degree (BAppSc(SpPathand CELTA qualifications and over 15 years of experience providing 1:1, group and online training make Georgie a leader in her field.  

Georgie is the creator the world’s leading English Pronunciation online courses that are tailored to the language background of the student and presents regularly at Universities.

If you’ve ever met Georgie or completed her award winning courses you’ll know how passionate she is about helping people move forward with better spoken English and more confidence. 

Email: georgie@speechactive.com
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