I am a mathematician, and I am also dyslexic. I am trying to use the dictation software (not voice over) on my MacBook pro to write documents. I want to teach it certain pronunciations of words for example 'Lie' in 'Lie algebra' is not pronounced as it is written but differently. Given I have a speech impediment associated with my dyslexic I don't pronounce 'th' properly (and a bunch of other things), so every time I say 'theory' it writes 'fairy'.

Here are some other examples that which it consistently gets wrong for me: "is" always writes "it's", "the" always writes "there". You can imagine how annoying this gets!

I'm worried it is in a positive feedback loop. That every time I say "the" and it writes "there" it thinks that is more likely the correct thing to do, so does it more often etc. I don't know how/if I can formally correct it so that the algorithm knows it got it wrong.

Thus my question is: Is there a way to teach apples dictation software the correct pronunciation/my pronunciation of words? If not are there any alternatives I could use.

(p.s. The original version of this question asked how to add new words as-well as pronunciations - a recent update seems to have sorted this)

  • Would it be better to have a script that finds words like fairy and replaces them with theory?
    – Solar Mike
    May 15, 2020 at 18:04
  • @SolarMike I'm not sure it would be better but it would work. May 15, 2020 at 18:11

2 Answers 2


I don't think that there is anything that is adjustable for Apple's dictation. I assume that you could use Text Replacements, but I don't think they are interactively called when dictating.

You might have more control if you used a third-party dictation software like Dragon Naturally Speaking.


My kids are dyslexic as well. I have used the text to speak to help them with their papers. I tell them to just their their thoughts out onto paper before going back and fixing any little issues that have come up from the dictation. It's also a way for them to proofread their work to make sure they make sense.

  • Thanks, text replacement seems, given I will sometimes want to actually write "there" text replacement doesn't seem like an ideal solution. Unfortunately Dragon Naturally Speaking has been discontinued for mac's. Jan 23, 2021 at 13:48
  • That suggestion, I realize, showed my age... Nuance also was the creator for Siri, so I could see why it was discontinued.
    – ErniePC12
    Jan 23, 2021 at 13:50
  • @ErniePC12 Dragon was a good answer. You might want to modify to be Dragon for Windows plus Windows and either VMware Fusion or Parallels. See machow2.com/best-dictation-software-mac This is web search based, not experience so I won't gazump your answer.
    – Gilby
    Jan 24, 2021 at 4:15
  • Dictation is never perfect, I've seen court reporters even mess things up on occasion. And I think the market in the past has been hard because we have always pushed learning how to type since talk-to-text wasn't always that good. It was also an offline product, everything was translated on the machine, not through an online system. This system is getting better all the time, at some point we will type less and talk more. I wish there was something better, we are not quite there yet.
    – ErniePC12
    Jan 24, 2021 at 13:19

Mastering Dictation and Voice Control takes time. Some of the things to consider while dictating documents are:

  1. What Microphone Are You Using
  2. Input Volume For Your Microphone
  3. How Loud Are You Speaking - Test At Different Volumes
  4. How Fast Are You Speaking? - Test Different Speaking Rates
  5. How Far Away From The Microphone Are You? - Test Different Distances
  6. Consider Using Headset Microphone (AirPods) Rather Than The Built-In Microphone
  7. Background Noise -TV, Radio, Other People

All of those items, in one way or another, will impact your dictation accuracy. In a lot of ways, it’s a game of finesse.

While using Voice Control, simply speak the phrase ”Show Commands”. If you happen to be working in a document with text when you speak that phrase, the Voice Commands window should display all of the different text related Voice Commands for editing, navigating, and working with text.

One of my suggestions would be to take 20 or 30 minutes and play around with those Voice Commands in a text based document to get the hang of things. It won’t happen overnight but in time, you’ll start memorizing the voice commands and they will become second nature to you.

You are already starting to notice that Dictation can be stubborn at times. You mentioned…

every time I say 'theory' it writes 'fairy’

These are the steps I would take to fix that problem if I had that same issue. Let’s assume that no matter how many different ways I have tried to pronounce ‘theory’, Dictation just won’t get it right. I decided to select the word ‘fairy’, after it was inserted by Dictation, and I spoke the phrase “Make This Speakable” at which point this following window opened…

enter image description here

Once you have your new command set up the way you want it, click save. Now anytime you are dictating and say “fairy”, the word “theory” will be inserted into your document. In the event you actually need to use the word “fairy” in a document, simply speak the phrase “literal fairy” and “fairy” will be inserted instead.

More to come… dinner break

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .