dessert vs desert – English pronunciation guide (2021)

Dessert vs Desert

Has the pronunciation of dessert and desert ever been difficult for you?

dessert dih-ZURRT (ZURRT is a stronger sound) AUDIO link
“After dinner can we have ice cream for dessert?”
desert DEH-zirt (DEH is a stronger sound) AUDIO link
“My student used to live in California and he often went to the Mojave desert with his family.”

Dessert and Desert English pronunciation

I have been teaching English to non-native speakers since 2006 and I have spent a lot of time helping students with their pronunciation. 

Pronunciation is a language skill that is not easy to get from a textbook. As a teacher and a native English speaker (Canadian), I don’t like to use the standard pronunciation symbols. 

dessert vs desert

I don’t think it’s fair to ask my students to learn ANOTHER new alphabet! I want to use letters from the English alphabet to create sounds and match them with words that students have heard before. I will use this simple method in today’s pronunciation post.

dessert – dih-ZURRT

dessert is a noun that means – sweet food eaten at the end of a meal

“I shouldn’t eat any more dinner. I want to save room for dessert.”

The word dessert has two syllables. A syllable is a unit of sound that makes parts of a word.

The first syllable is DIH – the second syllable is ZURRT – sounds like the verb HURT (The second syllable makes a stronger sound than the first. dih・ZURRT)

Learn more about syllables here: Easily Pronounce long English words (1 Simple trick)

desert – DEH-zirt

desert is a noun that means – a large area of land that has very little water and very few plants growing on it. Many deserts are covered by sand.

“The African country Somalia is mostly desert.”

The word desert has two syllables. 

The first syllable is DEH – the second syllable is ZIRT – sounds like the noun SKIRT(The first syllable makes a stronger sound than the second. DEH・zirt)

Dessert and Desert sentence examples

DESSERT – 🧁 Remember that two S’s (dessert) is for sweet food. SS = so sweet

“Let’s be healthy and have fruit for dessert tonight.”

“I’m on a diet, no dessert for me tonight.” 


“They set up large solar panels in the middle of the desert.”

“The United Arab Emirates is so hot they are paying scientists to make it rain in the desert.”

dessert vs desert examples

Desert vs Dessert Pronunciation – Helpful TIP

The good news is that the context of your sentence will help you be understood, even if your pronunciation is strange. 

If you said, “After dinner can we have ice cream for desert?” (DEH-zirt)  I know what you mean, even if your pronunciation is incorrect.

DESERT as a verb

The verb DESERT has the same as spelling the noun DESERT but the pronunciation is like the noun DESSERT- (dih・ZURRT)

DESERT verb meaning 1) to leave somebody without help or support

“He was deserted by his friends.” (dih・ZURR・TID)

2) to go away from a place and leave it empty

“The town was deserted after the hurricane. No one lived there anymore.” (dih・ZURR・TID) More at: Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries

Verb and Noun Pairs – Easy Pronunciation guide (Audio +PDF)


Did this post help you? Tell me in the comments what your favorite dessert is. Take a look at my other great blog posts for more English help.

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