Sure, it’s pretty hard to mess up Dallas or Seattle. In fact, most American cities are pretty phonetically straightforward. But a few always seem to trip us up (mostly because the pronunciations have a little something to do with regional dialect). Here, the correct way to say 12 of the tricky ones.

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Spokane, WA

The wrong way: Spoh-kayn
The right way: Spoh-can

You can pronounce it right.

city pronunciation 2
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Louisville, KY

The wrong way: Loo-ee-vil
The right way: Loo-a-vull

One thing’s for certain: Don’t pronounce the “s.” (And the “vull” is a regional thing—just go with it.)

city pronunciation 3
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SCHENECTADY, NY

The wrong way: Shheh-nek-tah-dee
The right way: Skuh-nek-tuh-dee

Start it hard, then go soft on your vowels.

city pronunciation 4
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Worcester, MA

The wrong way: Wor-chess-ter
The right way: Wus-ter

It’s less like the steak sauce than you think.

city pronunciation 5
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Mackinac Island, MI

The wrong way: Mac-in-ack Island
The right way: Mac-in-naw Island 

Rhymes with “paw.”

city pronunciation 6
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Poughkeepsie, NY

The wrong way: Pow-keep-see
The right way: Puh-kip-see

Skip the “keep” and keep the “kip.”

city pronunciation 7
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Lafayette, LA

The wrong way: Laugh-eye-yet
The right way: Lah-fie-yet

No one’s laughing now.

city pronunciation 8
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La Jolla, CA

The wrong way: La Jahl-la
The right way: Luh Hoy-yuh 

You don’t need to know Spanish to pronounce this beach town correctly.

city pronunciation 9
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Helena, MT

The wrong way: Heh-lay-nuh
The right way: Hell-in-uh

This state capital prefers the emphasis up front.

city pronunciation 10
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Kissimmee, FL

The wrong way: Kiss-i-mee
The right way: Cuh-sim-ee 

A kiss for whomever doesn’t say kiss.

city pronunciation 11
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Boerne, TX

The wrong way: Born
The right way: Ber-nee

Like the Sesame Street guy.

city pronunciation 12
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Des Moines, IA

The wrong way: Dey Moynz
The right way: Duh Moyn

Just remember: Duh. 

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