Silent Letters

Silent letters are letters that are not pronounced in a word. There are many silent letters in English including the letter ‘e’ at the end of a word, the letter ‘b’ following ‘m’ and many, many more. Can you guess which letter is silent in these words?

hope – silent ‘e’
comb – silent ‘b’
island – silent ‘s’
bought – silent ‘gh’

Here is a list of common letter combinations with silent letters in alphabetical order.

This list contains most of the silent letters that give English as a second language students difficulties.

Silent B

B is not pronounced when following M at the end of a word.

climb – I climbed the tree in the park.
crumb – There’s a crumb of bread on your lapel.
dumb – That’s a really dumb question.
comb – Do you carry a comb with you?

Silent C

C is not pronounced in the ending “scle.”

muscle – He’s building up muscle with that exercise.

Silent D

D is not pronounced in the following common words:

handkerchief – Adding a handkerchief to your suit provides a touch of class.
Wednesday – I’m not working this Wednesday.

Silent E

is not pronounced at the end of words and usually makes the vowel long.

hope – I hope to see you soon.
drive – I’ll drive the car to Seattle tomorrow.
gave – Jennifer gave him a book for his birthday.
write – Do you write letters anymore?
site – We visited the monument site last week.

Silent G

G is not often not pronounced when followed by an N.

champagne – Let’s drink champagne!
foreign – She works for a foreign bank.
sign – The sign says ‘exit’.
feign – Don’t feign that you care!

Silent GH

GH is not pronounced before T and at the end of many words.

thought – I thought about you last week.
through – Let’s take a drive through the park.
daughter – My daughter was born in Pisa.
light – There’s a beautiful light in the sky.

Silent H

H is not pronounced when following W. Some speakers whisper the H before the W.

what – What did you say?
when – When does the train leave?
where – Where are we going?

H is not pronounced at the beginning of many words. Use the article “an” with unvoiced H. Here are some of the most common:

hour – I’ll see you in an hour.
honest – To be honest, this is difficult.
honor – It’s an honor to have you over for dinner.

Silent K

K is not pronounced when followed by N at the beginning of a word.

knife – I cut the fish open with a knife.
knee – Bend your knees and jump.
know – Do you know the answer?

Silent L

L is often not pronounced before L, D, F, M, K.

calm – It’s a calm day in paradise.
salmon – Let’s have salmon for dinner.
talk – Let’s talk soon.
should – You should come over next week.

Silent N

N is not pronounced following M at the end of a word.

autumn – It’s a beautiful autumn day.
hymn – Open to hymn 25 and let’s sing.

Silent P

P is not pronounced at the beginning of many words using the suffix “psych” and “pneu”.

psychiatrist – The psychiatrist asked lots of questions.
pneumonia – Pneumonia can be a very dangerous disease.

Silent S

S is not pronounced before L in the following words:

island – We took a ferry to the island.

Silent T

T is not pronounced in these common words:

castle – The castle stood upon the hill overlooking the valley.
fasten – Fasten your seatbelts and lets go for a ride.
listen – Listen carefully to what I say.

Silent U

U is not pronounced before after G and before a vowel.

guess – I guess I don’t know the answer.
guitar – While my guitar gently weeps.
guest – She’s our guest tonight.

Silent W

W is not pronounced at the beginning of a word followed by an R.

wrap – Wrap up the present for Tom.
write – I need to write an essay tomorrow.
wrong – I’m afraid you are wrong.

W is not pronounced with these three pronouns:

who – Who do you know in town?
whose – Whose job is it?
whom – Whom should we ask.