Silent Letters | English Pronunciation & Vocabulary | PART 1

Lesson Overview

In this lesson, we’ll practise the pronunciation of English words with silent letters in them! 😅 Yes, that’s right! We sometimes don’t pronounce letters in English words!
This video will give you some tips and clues to help you pronounce English words correctly. This lesson is PART 1! Watch PART 2 here!

Video Transcript
Section 1
Oh my gosh guys, how annoying are silent letters!!

What are they even doing there???!!!

This video is all about English words with silent letters in them. When do you pronounce those letters and when don’t you pronounce those letters? I’m going to teach you a few simple rules to help you pronounce English words correctly.

Don’t forget to turn the subtitles on either, the button is just down there so you can follow along. There are a lot of English words that have silent letters and there are lots of silent letters in English! About sixty percent of all English words have a silent letter! No wonder pronunciation is so frustrating, right? And they can be silent, these letters, but there not always silent! So you have to be careful!

You need to know a few basic rules to help with the pronunciation of silent letters in English words.

Okay let’s start at the top with the letter ‘A’. Now the letter A can be silent especially in words that end in –ally. Cut the ‘A’ out. Get rid of it!

Like these examples: Romantically, musically, logically

Now there’s a rule to remember with the letter ‘B’ – it’s always silent when it follows the letter ‘M’. So practice them with me. I’m not pronouncing the ‘B’, I’m just pronouncing the ‘M’ consonant sound.

Examples: Climb, crumb, lamb, thumb, dumb, plumber. 

And the letter ‘B’ is often silent when it’s before the consonant ‘T’.

So think of these examples: subtle, debt, doubt

So, see in all of these examples, my lips aren’t closing and coming together to form the ‘B’ sound, I’m just pronouncing the ‘T’.

Now the letter ‘C’ can cause a few problems because it’s often silent after the letter ‘S’ like in these very common examples. They’re quite tricky.

Muscle, scissors, fascinate, scene, scenario.

So that’s the silent ‘C’.

So what about the letter ‘D’? Yep! It can be silent too!

Wednesday, handsome, sandwich.

So I’m not pronouncing the D in ‘sandwich‘, I’m just pronouncing the consonant ‘N’ sound before it. Try it with me one more time.

And a ‘D’ can be very quiet (not quite silent) but very quiet in front of a ‘G’ like in these examples:

Edge, knowledge,  bridge, hedge.

So in these examples, the ‘D’ and the ‘G’ combined together to produce the ‘-dg’ consonant sound. ‘-dg’.

Okay so the letter ‘e’ can often be silent at the end of a word. I’m pretty sure you know this one already, like these examples:

Clue, bake, taste.

But that ‘E’ on the end, although it might be silent, it can affect the pronunciation of the vowel sound before it. Let’s look at these examples:

Hop > hope, sit > site, hid > hide, slid > slide

So, see how the ‘e’ on the end, although it’s pronounced is affecting the vowel sound before it. it makes it longer. So hid becomes hide. But if the ‘e’ is the final letter in the word but it’s the only vowel sound then it needs to be pronounced, like in these examples:

He, she, we – it has to be pronounced.

‘E’ can also be silent at the end of past tense regular verbs – which all end in –ed right?

But they’re not always pronounced like it is in wanted so you can hear the ‘ed’ sound there, ‘-ed’ ‘-ed’. It’s its own syllable. but a lot of the time that E isn’t pronounced.

Looked, asked, played, baked, wrapped.

Now they could be a little bit tricky, so let’s do it again!

Okay so a ‘G’ can also be silent too! Think about the words:

Sign, champagne, design, foreign.

All of these examples have a silent ‘G’. And the combination of ‘gh’ can also be silent when it comes after a vowel sound.

Though, high, light, daughter, bright.

Now the letter ‘H’ is often silent too, often when it’s following a W, like in the examples:

What, when, why, whistle. 

And sometimes it’s not pronounced at the start of a word like honest and hour. And sometimes the H is not pronounced when it follows any of these three letters: ‘C’, ‘G’ or ‘R’.

Now, most of the time ‘CH’ is pronounced ‘ch’ but on small occasions or rare occasions it’s not pronounced, the ‘H’ is silent. So it’s:

Choir, echo.

With a ‘G’: Ghost.

And with an ‘R’: Rhythm or rhyme.

Good news! The ‘I’ is not usually silent, it’s usually pronounced except in the word business.

Okay, ‘K! Now I know you know this one.

A ‘K’ is not pronounced when it comes before an ‘N’. Like:

Knife, know, knee, knock, knot, knowledge.

The letter ‘L’ can be silent too and it’s quite common when you look at this list. But consider this rule to be a bit of a “cheat” because the letter ‘L’ is quite difficult to pronounce in all of these words, even for a native speaker!

So this makes it easier, in these words where ‘L’ is really difficult to pronounce then it’s silent! Ready? Let’s try it!

Could, should, talk, walk, yolk, half, calf, salmon.

So, we got through quite a bit but we’re only halfway through! So, if you want to keep watching and keep practicing with silent letters in English then click the link in the description box and go to part 2 of this video.

Guys, I love making these videos for you and I love hearing from you as well, so if you want to say hi come over to my Facebook page at mmmEnglish and say hello, ask questions, introduce yourself! I’d love to hear from you there. Make sure you check out part 2, the link’s down there! See you soon!

Links mentioned in the video

Related videos

  • 3 Simple Pronunciation Tips for Past Tense Verbs
    3 Simple Pronunciation Tips for Past Tense Verbs

  • 10 Common Words To Sound Natural! 👄 English Pronunciation
    10 Common Words To Sound Natural! 👄 English Pronunciation

  • How To Say REALLY Common English Expressions!
    How To Say REALLY Common English Expressions!