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Silent letters in English

2 min read
9 October 2017
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Have you ever wondered why the words write and right sound the same? And why does no one pronounce the second o in chocolate or the k in knife? English is not a phonetic language, which means we don’t pronounce every single letter. In fact, some of the most common words have silent letters.


So how do silent letters work?

There aren’t any particular rules when it comes to silent letters, but there are patterns. For example, you don’t pronounce an e if it is at the end of most words with a vowel and consonant before it, like in late, safe and mine.


Some common combinations you might already know

Certain combinations of letters create silent letters. For example, the word knight is pronounced n+ye+t. In kn combination, the is silent. In the ght combination, the gh is silent. It may seem weird, but you’ll pick it up soon enough!

  • Silent K in words that start with KN like know, knight and knee
  • Silent B in words that end with MB like dumb, bomb and crumb
  • Silent B in words with BT like debt, subtle and doubt
  • Silent GH in words that end in GHT like night, straight and eight
  • Silent N in words that end in MN like autumn, column and damn


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Here are a few more common words with silent letters. Are you pronouncing them correctly?

 Silent L would, talk, half, folk, almonds, salmon
 Silent S island, aisle
 Silent O chocolate, sophomore, Catholic
 Silent E vegetable,Wednesday
 Silent W two, who, whole, wrist, sword, answer
 Silent U build, biscuit, guest, tongue, catalogue, plague
 Silent C Connecticut
 Silent R surprise
 Silent T listen
 Silent H ghost, rhyme, rhythm, Thailand, honest, hour
 Silent P receipt, psychic, psychology, psychiatrist



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