Pronunciation Practice! 50+ English Words that include SILENT VOWELS

Lesson Overview

Lesson Summary 

Ready to perfect your pronunciation with me? I’ll teach you to correctly pronounce over 50 English words with silent vowel letters. Pronouncing English vowels can be tricky – there are only 5 vowel letters, but 20 vowel SOUNDS in English. So, practising your pronunciation out loud with me in this lesson is essential!

Silent letters are common in English words (they’re in more than HALF of all English words!) Study these ones with me and learn the correct pronunciation!


Video Transcript
Section 1
Well hey there I’m Emma from mmmEnglish. In today’s lesson, we’re gonna have a little bit of fun. We are going to perfect your pronunciation of over fifty English words with silent letters in them.

Silent letters are pains, aren’t they? A few weeks ago I shared a lesson of over a hundred words, all with silent consonant letters in them but today we’re going to focus on silent vowel letters.

Now I’m not going to lie, English vowels and vowel sounds are definitely tricky.

We have five vowel letters A, E, I, O and U and the letter Y, the consonant Y, can sometimes represent a vowel sound too but we’ve got many more vowel sounds in English right?

And of course, the same letter can represent different sounds. Often you see vowel letters together in words even though it only makes one sound. It’s very confusing and as you’ll see today sometimes vowel letters can be completely silent as well.

So please, please get ready to practise out loud with me, it will do you absolutely no good watching. You need to get your tongue and your mouth comfortable with the sounds that we’re making today and familiar with what you see on screen.

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Silent Letter A

Let’s start with the letter A. Of course, we start with the letter A, we always do, don’t we?

  • Basically, we’d like bread to be rolled down the aisle.

Despite the fact that that was a ridiculous sentence there are three examples of a silent letter A in that sentence. Can you see them?

Basically. Bread. Aisle.

There are lots of times like in the word bread and aisle where A doesn’t really need to be there at all because it doesn’t affect the sound that we make.

Bread may as well be written as bread right and aisle may as well be aisle.

Aesthetic doesn’t need that A either. Aesthetic.

The thing is, there’s no real way of knowing until you hear that word spoken out loud or perhaps you check the phonemic script in any good dictionary.

If you’ve watched this lesson up here about English vowel sound pronunciation then you’ll be able to recognise exactly which English sounds are being shown here.

Then you can feel certain that you’re correct in your pronunciation, that bread is pronounced bread and not braid or breed or bre-ad.

There is one silent A that you can definitely rely on and that is words that end in -ically, of which there are many just like basically.

The A is always silent in those endings so when it’s spoken naturally. Listen. You’ve got:

  • basically
  • logically
  • politically
  • automatically
  • specifically

Now I want you to try a few with me okay.

  • musically
  • frantically
  • chaotically

You got it? Fabulous!

Silent Letter E

Now the letter E is an interesting one. It’s definitely the most common silent vowel letter in English and there are some useful not rules but let’s say guidelines to help you pronounce words with silent E’s in them correctly.

The letter E is usually silent when it’s at the end of a word and one of the key exceptions there is if the E is the only vowel sound in the word so for example

  • he
  • she
  • we
  • be
  • me

Right? If it’s the only vowel sound it’s the only syllable we need to pronounce it. The rest of the time if you see an E at the end of a word, then we don’t pronounce it just like in the word taste. You can see that there are two vowel letters in this word right? Here and here.

  • taste
  • clue
  • bake
  • imagine

All of those words have a silent E at the end. We don’t hear it. But it is not completely pointless. That silent E does often change the vowel sound that comes before it. And I’ve got a few examples to help you think about this a little.

So if we look at the word hop, as soon as we add that E to the end, it becomes hope. So that vowel sound extends outwards, hop, hope.

The same with hid, we add that E, it becomes hide. And sit becomes site.

So that E, although we don’t hear it specifically, it does impact the sound that comes before it. I’ve got a few more words with silent E’s to practise with you. Are you ready?

Try vegetable.

So can you see where that silent E is? You don’t hear me say veg-etable, just vegetable.

Try clothes.

This is definitely a tricky one to pronounce but we don’t want to hear clo-thes is incorrect. We only want to hear clothes.

Bridge.

So it’s not bridgey or bridge. Bridge. Just one syllable.

And plaque or plaque depending on which native English speaker you’re talking to. I say plaque but it’s definitely not pla-que or plaque. Of course, and the silent E in -ed endings in English.

The letter E can often be silent when it’s a regular past tense verb. All of those verbs end in -ed right? In words like

  • fazed
  • sighed
  • played
  • baked
  • asked
  • wrapped

In all of those examples, that last E is silent. We don’t hear it. And I know that this can be tricky for some of you, my Spanish and my Portuguese learners in particular but luckily for you, I have a whole lesson dedicated to pronouncing past tense regular verbs correctly. It’s right up here if you want to head to it. I’ll also link to it at the end of this lesson.

Silent Letter I

Now the letter I is not usually silent but there are a few common English words where it is in words like

  • fruit
  • suit
  • juice
  • cruise

In all of these words, we don’t pronounce that I sound so it’s not fru-it or su-it or ju-ice or cru-ise. Okay we just use that ooh vowel sound.

Now the word parliament has a silent I as well, parliament. That unstressed syllable in there. Parliament. And business has a silent I as well. Business.

But what makes that word even more confusing is that there is an E sound in there though it’s represented by the letter U. Practise saying it out loud with me. Business.

Silent Letter O

All right let’s talk about the silent letter O. We see it in words like

  • enough
  • rough
  • tough

I mean there are several silent letters in each of those words right. The silent G, the silent H but for the vowel sound, just a simple U would suffice, wouldn’t it? I want you to practise out loud with me.

Now you’ve probably heard the word people enough to know just ignore that O, right? People.

There’s also a silent O in leopard and jeopardy.

We usually say that something is in jeopardy when it’s in trouble or it’s likely to be damaged.

  • It was in that moment he realised his career was in jeopardy.

Was that a new word for you? Well then, let’s see if you can use it in a sentence. I want you to share that sentence down in the comments with me just to double-check that you’ve got that new word, how to use it and the meaning accurate.

Silent Letter U

  • The security guard and his colleague guessed whose guitar it was.

Don’t feel guilty if you can’t guess this one. You might need to be able to see it before you can guess it. It’s that letter U and that letter U can be silent in lots of English words, really common ones especially when it’s after G.

I want you to try these ones with me.

  • guess
  • guard 
  • guide 
  • guitar 
  • guilt 
  • tongue
  • colleague 
  • guarantee

Okay listen up because I’ve got a little bonus pronunciation tip here for you.

  • She plays the guitar beautifully / wonderfully / carefully.

So what do you notice about all of those three words at the end there?

  • beautifully
  • wonderfully
  • carefully

I’m not pronouncing that U, am I? And this is really common for native English speakers to just drop that little vowel syllable out of there.

When we’re using words, adverbs that are exactly like this that end in -fully, we usually drop that U.

Now it’s not wrong to pronounce that syllable. It’s unstressed anyway but it’s definitely more natural and relaxed to drop that extra little syllable out. Forget that U.

PRACTICE

All right so now we’ve been through lots of examples of silent vowel letters in common English words. Now it’s time for some practice. So I’ve got some sentences ready and I want you to practise out loud with me, okay?

  • He wrapped his mother’s present carefully so she couldn’t guess what was inside.

You try it.

  • They spilled vegetable juice all over their new clothes.

Try it.

  • My colleague hasn’t worn a suit since she worked in parliament four years ago.

Try it.

  • My colleague hasn’t worn a suit since she worked in parliament four years ago.
  • They hadn’t a clue that he basically tried to claim the cruise as a business trip.

Your turn.

  • We’re guilty because our laws weren’t tough enough and now the leopards are in jeopardy.

Try it.

Yeah! Nice work! We went through over fifty words with silent vowel letters in it just then. Not a complete list by any stretch at all but we definitely ticked off lots of the most common ones and this is specifically to help you sound more natural and relaxed as you’re speaking in English. Get that pronunciation right.

Now if you enjoyed the lesson, make sure you let me know by hitting the subscribe button, giving the lesson a like. I always love to hear your comments down below. Make sure you drop one down there.

And if you happen to miss my lesson on silent consonant letters or maybe you want to go back and you want to review it again now that you’ve watched this one, you can get that right here and you can also find my past tense verb pronunciation lesson as well just down there.

Links mentioned in the video

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