Some people say that more than 60% of English words have a silent letter. That’s a lot of words, right?
Well in today’s video, I am going to show you why we have silent letters in English and eight rules that you can use to help you know if a word has a silent letter.
Make sure you subscribe to the channel because next week we will release part two of this silent letter series. Alright, are you ready? Let’s get started!
Why we have silent letters in English
Look at this word right here. It’s pronounced ‘sit’. We pronounce every letter. S I T.
Now look at this word. This word is pronounced ‘site’. We pronounce the S. We pronounce the I and we pronounce the T. But we don’t pronounce the E. The E is a silent letter.
The E is here to change the pronunciation because if the E wasn’t here, then the word would be pronounced as ‘sit’, right? So this is the first reason why we have silent letters.
A lot of the time we use silent letters to change the pronunciation of a word.
The second reason we have silent letters in English is because English is a very old language. Languages change over time, over hundreds of years, over thousands of years. So just because a letter is silent now, that doesn’t mean it was silent in the past.
Now let’s look at the basic rules for silent letters. Please note that these are the general rules and there are always exceptions to the rules. Let’s look at the letter B first.
The first rule is that if a B comes after an M, at the end of a word, it’s normally not pronounced. Some common examples are climb. Crumb. Tomb. Bomb. Comb. You can see here that in all of these words, we do not pronounce that final B sound.
The second rule with B is that B is normally not pronounced when it comes before the letter T. Some common examples are debt. Subtle. Doubt. Again, you can see here that we’re not pronouncing the B in all of these words.
Now let’s look at the letter C. The first rule is that when the letter C comes after an S, it’s normally not pronounced. Some common examples are scissors. Muscle. Ascend. Conscious. You can see here that we don’t pronounce the C after the S.
The second rule with C is that if a C comes before a K at the end of a word, it’s normally not pronounced. Some common examples are kick. Brick. Rock. Chuck. Luck.
Now let’s look at the letter D. The letter D is normally silent when it comes before N and G. Some common examples of this are Wednesday. Grudge. Badge. You can see here that in all of these words, we’re not pronouncing the D sound.
Now let’s look at the letter E. The letter E is normally not pronounced when it comes at the end of a word. Some really common examples are kite. Write. Bite. Phone. Cone. You can see here that we’re not pronouncing that E sound. The E is just there to change the pronunciation of these words.
The second rule with E is that when E comes before a D in an ED form of a verb or of an adjective, we normally don’t pronounce it. Some common examples are checked. Cooked. Fixed. Bored. Annoyed. You can see here in all of these words we’re not pronouncing that E sound in the ED.
Now let’s look at the letter G. When we have a G and it’s before an N, the G sound is normally not pronounced. Some common examples are design. Sign. Foreign. Gnash. Campaign. In all of these words, we’re not pronouncing that G sound.
But there are always exceptions to the rule and some common exceptions are the words signature and magnet. In these two words, we do pronounce the G sound.
The next rule is when we have G and H together, and those two letters are before a vowel, we normally do not pronounce these two letters. Some common examples are light. Through. Fight. Height. Thorough. In all of these words, we’re not pronouncing the G and the H.
But when two words are joined together and there’s a G and a H next to each other, we do pronounce both letters. A very common example is doghouse. Doghouse. In this word, we’re pronouncing the G and the H.
Another rule with GH is that sometimes GH is pronounced as an F sound, that /f/ sound. Some common examples are cough. Laugh. Tough. In all of these words, that GH sound is pronounced as an F sound, as a /f/ sound.
Now let’s talk about the letter H. The letter H is sometimes silent when it comes after a W. Some common examples are in some of the WH question words in English such as what. When. Where. Why. In all of these words, we’re not pronouncing that H sound.
But sometimes when the letter H comes after a W, we do pronounce the H sound. Some common examples are whole. Who. Whose. In all of these words, we’re pronouncing the H sound but we’re not pronouncing the W sound.
Another rule with H is that H is sometimes silent when it comes at the start of a word. Some common examples are hour. Honest. Honor. In all of these words, we are not pronouncing the H sound. We are not pronouncing the letter H.
The last letter we are talking about today is the letter K. When the letter K is before the letter N, the letter K is normally silent. Some common examples are knit. Knock. Know. Knowledge. Knack. In all of these words, we’re not pronouncing the K sound.
Now you have learned some basic rules for silent letters in English. Now let’s have a little quiz to test your memory. I will show you ten words on the screen and I want you to pronounce them correctly.
Number one. Fixed. Fixed. Number two. Sandwich. Sandwich. Number three. What. What. Number four. Light. Light. Number five. Debt. Debt. Number six. Luck. Luck. Number seven. Sign. Sign. Number eight. Scissors. Scissors. Number nine. Comb. Comb. Number ten. Ascend. Ascend.
So you can see here now that all the letters in red are silent letters – this means when you pronounce these words, you don’t have to pronounce the letters which are in red.
Comment down below and let us know: how many words did you pronounce correctly? Please remember that the rules in this video are just general rules. That means that sometimes there may be exceptions to these rules.
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