By Paola Pascual on Feb 2, 2022 3:17:39 PM
Silent letters are letters that use to write the word, but we don't pronounce. You will see them on paper, but you won't hear them when you say the word. In this post, you will find a comprehensive list of words that contain silent letters. Bookmark this page so that you can check it anytime and download our free guide for more tips on how to improve your English pronunciation.
Why Are There Silent Letters?
Silent letters may seem useless but –believe it or not– they are not always redundant. They may help us in different ways:
👯 Homophones. Silent letters help us distinguish between homophones (i.e. words that are pronounced the same but have different meanings) in writing (e.g. be/bee, in/inn, lent/leant, rest/wrest, new/knew, night/knight, jam/jamb).
🗣️ Pronunciation. Even though these letters are not pronounced, they can help the reader to stress the correct syllable (e.g. physics/physiques) and also change the pronunciation of other letters (e.g. guest/gesture, rid/ride).
🗺️ Origin. Silent letters may help us better understand the origin or meaning of a word and also connect them with one another from the same family (e.g. resign-resignation, vine-vineyard).
Now that you see they're not totally useless –at least not always– let's check what words have silent letters.
Words With Silent Letters
Look at the words below and read them out loud. Putting them in a sentence will help you better remember which words include silent letters.
Words With Silent B
The letter B is often silent when it is placed at the end of a word and is preceded by M (-MB).
Words With Silent C
The letter C is often silent when it is placed after an S (SC).
- Ascend / ascent
Words With Silent D
The letter D is often silent when it is placed in the middle of a word, either after an N or before a G (-DG-, -ND-).
- Handkerchief (**NOTE: in the word "hand", the D is not silent)
Words With Silent E
Many words contain a silent E, especially at the end of a word. Usually these words end in Vowel + Consonant + Silent E. The list is very extensive; here are some examples:
In American English, we tend to drop silent E's in some words.
- Judgement (BrE) / judgment (AmE)
- Programme (BrE) / program (AmE)
Words With Silent G
The letter G is oftentimes silent when it is placed before N, mostly when GN appears at the beginning or the end of the word. It is also usually silent when it appears before H (GH).
Words With Silent H
The letter H is sometimes silent when it is placed after C (CH) and it is always silent when it appears after some consonants (GH, WH, RH).
- Archeology (in BrE: archaeology)
- Architect / architecture
- Character / characteristic
- Chemical / chemistry / chemist
- Christmas / Christian
- Herbs (**only in AmE)
- Honest / honor
- Schedule (**only in AmE)
- Tech / technology / techie
- Thai / Thailand
- What / when / where / why / which
Words With Silent K
The letter K is silent when it appears at the beginning of a word followed by N (KN-).
- Know / knew / known
Words With Silent L
The letter L is often silent in the combination ALF, ALM, and OULD.
Words With Silent N
The letter N is often silent when it appears at the end of a word preceded by the letter M (-MN).
Words With Silent P
The letter P is often silent at the beginning of a word followed by S (PS-).
Words With Silent T
Words With Silent U
The silent U is used to soften the letter G (GU-). It is also silent in most words with the structure -UIT or -UILT.
Words With Silent W
The letter W is often silent when it is placed before the letter R (WR).
- Write / wrote / written
Keep Improving Your English Pronunciation
Download our free pronunciation guide and learn how to improve your English pronunciation. It includes video tutorials and tips to practice on your own. If you are serious about improving your pronunciation and business English, contact Talaera. We will help you find the program for you and your teams.
- Talaera Free resources
- Learning Business English? +20 Top Tips You Need To Know
- How To Pronounce The Most Difficult English Sounds Correctly
- How To Improve Your English Pronunciation [Free Guide]
- How To Effectively Reduce Your Accent in English!
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