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The noun knowledge presents two problems in particular to all users of English, and one that is experienced more by those who are learning English as a foreign language.

  • First, a problem with pronunciation. Although the noun knowledge is derived from the irregular verb 'to know', it is pronounced differently.
    • Knowledge rhymes with 'college'. ('Know' has the same vowel as 'go' (IPA: /əʊ/).)
    • The first syllable of 'knowledge' has the vowel of 'got' and 'not' IPA: /ɒ/, while the second syllable has the vowel of 'ledge' or 'fridge', IPA: /'nɒ lɛ(or ɪ)dʒ/.
  • Second, many writers are confused with the spelling.
    • Although the first syllable of knowledge, in RP, rhymes with the first syllable of 'holiday' (IPA: /nɒl/) (see also Knowledge (pronunciation)), its root is know. So it is spelled with 'k-', '-n-' and '-w' round the central vowel '-o-'.
    • The second syllable is written the same way as 'ledge'.
      • Don't confuse the spelling of knowledge with the spelling of the rhyming word college, which is written without a '-d-'. (There is a further note, of limited use to those seeking help on 'knowledge', on one aspect of the spelling of 'college' at Collage - college.

Knowledge is one of the 117 mis-spellings listed as 'Common difficulties' in the section on 'Spelling' within 'Writing' in UEfAP.

A note that may be of use to those for whom English is not their native language: knowledge is a non-count noun. If you want to talk about a unit of something that you know, it is "an item of knowledge", or, less formally, "a bit of knowledge". You cannot normally talk about 'a knowledge'.