One of the most frustrating things about learning English is the irregularity in its spelling and pronunciation. The pronunciation of many words can’t be guessed by the spelling and vice versa. Here are some of the most famous words with silent letters. How many did you already know?
There are many words in the English language that begin with kn. Here, the k is silent. The word know, for example, has exactly the same pronunciation as the word no. Some other words with a silent k are knife, knee and knight.
In the word hour, the h is silent. This means hour and our have the same pronunciation. Honest also begins with a silent h, but some words also have a silent h in the middle, like ghost and exhibition.
When a word begins with wr, the w is silent, as in words like wrong, write and wrap. Another famous example of a word with a silent w is answer, which actually rhymes with dancer.
With words of Greek origin beginning with ps, pn or pt, the p is silent. This affects words such as psychology, pneumonia and pseudo.
It surprises many people to know that some well-known words actually have a silent b. Bomb rhymes with from and Tom, climb rhymes with time and crime, lamb rhymes with ham and jam, debt rhymes with get and let and doubt rhymes with out and scout.
We have many words with a silent l. Calm and palm rhyme with arm and farm, talk and walk rhyme with fork and pork. Half and calf have the same sound as scarf, and folk has the same sound as joke and Coke. The l in salmon is silent, so it rhymes with gammon. There is also a silent l in the modal verbs could, would and should, meaning they all rhyme with good and wood (would and wood have the same pronunciation).
The words island and aisle (which rhymes with file and while) are the two most famous example of words with a silent s. That’s good to know if you’re flying to an island and you’d like an aisle seat on the plane!
Listen, castle, fasten, whistle and mortgage all have a silent t. Often originally had a silent t, although today it’s also acceptable to pronounce the t.
There is an unbelievable amount of words in English which contain gh. Unless the word begins with gh (like ghost), the g isn’t pronounced. So you won’t hear the g in daughter (rhymes with water), high (same pronunciation as hi), bought (same sound as sort) or cough (rhymes with off). Right, night, height, might and many others have the same sound as bite, site and white. Weight has the same pronunciation as wait and tough rhymes with stuff.
Some words are famously difficult to pronounce. Tongue has the same sound as song and wrong and guard rhymes with card and hard. There is a silent p in cupboard, a silent t in Christmas, and even a silent i in business!
How do you learn the pronunciation and spelling of English words? Have you been mispronouncing or misspelling any of the words mentioned in this blog post?