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silent letters in english
Rule 1: B is not pronounced after M at the end of a word.
Examples: limb, crumb, dumb, comb, bomb, thumb, climb, tomb
Rule 2: B is usually not pronounced before T at the end of a root word.**
Examples: debt, doubt, debtor, doubtful, subtle, subtleness
Rule 1: C is not pronounced in the combination SC.
Examples: Muscle, scissors, ascent, miscellaneous, fascinate, scenario
Exceptions: Sclera, asclepiad, sclerosis, muscovado, sceptic
Rule 2: C is usually redundant before the letters K or Q.
Examples: Acquaintance, acknowledge, acquiesce, acquit
Rule 1: D is not pronounced in the following common words:
Handkerchief, Wednesday, sandwich, handsome
Rule 2: D is also not pronounced in the combination DG.
Examples: Pledge, dodge, grudge, hedge
Rule: E is not pronounced at the end of words, but instead elongates the sound of the vowel before it.
Examples: Hope, drive, gave, write, site, grave, bite, hide
Exceptions: Giraffe, brunette, cassette, gazelle (You may be able to spot a pattern in these words; they have similar combinations in the last syllable. This shows that the exceptions are generally words with unusual stress on the final syllable – but not always! One example would be the word ‘minute’ as in the time-measuring unit.)
Rule: G is not often not pronounced when it comes before N.
Examples: Champagne, foreign, sign, feign, foreign, design, align, cognac
Exceptions: Magnet, igneous, cognitive, signature
Rule 1: GH is not pronounced when it comes after a vowel.
Examples: Thought, drought, through, thorough, borough, daughter, light, might, sigh, right, fight, weigh, weight
Exceptions: Doghouse, foghorn, bighead (As you can see, the exceptions are generally compound words i.e. words that have been formed by combining two complete words)
Rule 2: GH is sometimes pronounced like F.
Examples: rough, tough, laugh, enough, cough, clough, draught
Rule 1: H is not pronounced when it comes after W (n.b. some speakers whisper the H before the W).
Examples: what, when, where, whether, why
Rule 2: H is not pronounced at the beginning of many words (remember to use the article “an” with unvoiced H).
Examples: hour, honest, honour, heir
Exceptions: hill, history, height, happy, hereditary (Plus most other words beginning with H that are NOT of French origin – and remember to use the article “a” with voiced H)
Rule 3: H is often not pronounced when it comes after C, G or R.
Examples: choir, chorus, ghastly, ghoul, aghast, echo, rhinocerous, rhythm
Rule: K is not pronounced when it comes before N at the beginning of a word.
Examples: knife, knee, know, knock, knowledge, knead
Rule: L is not pronounced after the vowels A, O and U.
Examples: calm, half, talk, walk, would, should, could, calf, salmon, yolk, chalk, folk, balm
Exceptions: Halo, bulk, sulk, hold, sold, fold, mould
Rule: N is not pronounced when it comes after M at the end of a word.
Examples: Autumn, hymn, column, solemn
Rule: P is not pronounced at the beginning of many words using the combinations PS, PT and PN.
Psychiatrist, pneumonia, pneumatic, psychotherapy, psychotic, psychologist, pseudonym, Pterodactyl
Rule: PH is sometimes pronounced like F.
Examples: telephone, paragraph, alphabet, epiphany, sophomore
Rule: S is not pronounced before L in the following words:
Island, isle, aisle, islet
Rule: T is not pronounced in these common words:
Castle, Christmas, fasten, listen, often, whistle, thistle, bustle, hasten, soften, rapport, gourmet, ballet
Rule: U is not pronounced when it comes after G and before a vowel.
Examples: guess, guidance, guitar, guest, guild, guard
Rule 1: W is not pronounced at the beginning of a word when it is before the letter R.
Examples: wrap, write, wrong, wring, wreck, wrestle, wrap, wrist
Rule 2: W is not pronounced in the following words:
Who, whose, whom, whole, whoever, answer, sword, two
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