Words With Silent Letters
English is a notoriously difficult language to learn when it comes to pronunciation. It is famous for spelling words differently to how they are pronounced and one reason for this is that there are so many words with silent letters.
A ‘silent letter’ is a letter which you can see in the word when it is written down but you cannot hear it in the word when it is spoken. There are countless examples of these in the English language but today I’m going to give you a list of 40. We’ve got a lot to get through so let’s get started and don’t forget to really focus on pronunciation during this lesson.
You will find a video below with me, Anna English, and I’ll help you to learn how to pronounce words with silent letters. You can pause the video to practise saying a word if you need to.
Below the video on how to pronounce words with silent letters, you’ll find a description.
As a bonus surprise, you’ll also find another video at the end of this lesson where I will test you on your ability to spot the correct pronunciation of words with silent letters.
How to pronounce 40 words with silent letters.
Logically has a silent a
Although ‘logically’ is spelled with an ‘a’ in the middle of the word, you can’t hear that letter when you say it out loud. It’s a silent letter.
‘Logically’ is an adverb which means: in a way that uses reason.
“Jeremy thinks very logically.”
Romantically has a silent a
Again, we have a silent ‘a’ in the middle of the word but when we say it out loud, we push the ‘c’ and the ‘l’ together to make a ‘cl’ sound.
‘Romantically’ is an adverb which means: in a way that relates to love and romance.
“He romantically planned our whole trip.”
Climb has a silent b
The ‘b’ at the end of the word is silent.
‘Climb’ is a verb which means: to go up, or to go towards the top of something.
“I’m going to climb a mountain in Scotland.”
Crumb has a silent b
‘Crumb’ is another example of a silent ‘b’.
‘Crumb’ is a noun which means: a small amount of something, particularly in reference to food.
“You’ve spilled crumbs all over the kitchen.”
Doubt has a silent b
So here we have another silent ‘b’, but this time in the middle of the word.
‘Doubt’ is a noun which is used to describe the feeling of not being certain about something, especially about how good or true it is.
“I’m having doubts about whether Laura is telling the truth.”
Numb has a silent b
Once again, another silent ‘b’ at the end of a word.
‘Numb’ is an adjective which means: without feeling.
“It’s so cold outside my fingers are numb.”
Subtle has a silent b
I’m only just realising how many words there are which have a silent ‘b’!
‘Subtle’ is an adjective which means: not loud, bright, noticeable or obvious.
“I was going to wear this (hold up something bright) but I decided to go for something more subtle.”
Thumb has a silent b
That’s the last silent ‘b’ on the list.
‘Thumb’ is the noun we use to describe this (hold up thumb). The short, fifth finger on each hand.
“I burned my thumb on the oven.”
Scissors has a silent c
We’ve got that silent ‘c’ in between the ’s’ and the ‘i’.
‘Scissors’ is a noun we use to describe two sharp blades which are used to cut things.
“Could you pass me those scissors? I need to cut the label off.”
Wednesday has a silent d
That silent ‘d’ can make ‘Wednesday’ quite tricky to spell.
‘Wednesday’ is the day in the week after Tuesday and before Thursday.
“Shall we go for a walk on Wednesday?”
Handsome has a silent d
Another silent ‘d’ in the middle of the word.
‘Handsome’ is an adjective which means: physically attractive in a traditional, male way. It is typically only used to describe men.
“He’s not very clever but he’s ever so handsome.”
Name has a silent e
There are so many words in English with a silent ‘e’ at the end, this is just one example.
‘Name’ is a noun which means: the word or words that a person, thing or place is known by.
“She was so helpful but I can’t remember her name.”
Breathe has a silent e
The silent ‘e’ at the end of ‘breathe’ causes confusion even for many Native English speakers. If you remove the ‘e’, you get the word ‘breath’ so many people get the spelling of the two confused.
‘Breathe’ is a verb which means: to move air in and out of the lungs.
“I know you’re nervous so don’t forget to breathe.”
Sign has a silent g
Notice that silent ‘g’ in the middle of the word.
‘Sign’ is a verb which means: to write your name, usually on a written or printed document.
“Before you start work, you must sign the contract.”
Champagne has two silent letters
We’ve actually got a silent ‘g’ and a silent ‘e’ in that example.
‘Champagne’ is the noun we use to describe an expensive fizzy wine which is traditionally drunk to celebrate something.
“Let’s celebrate your promotion with a bottle of champagne.”
Gnaw has a silent g
Again, we’ve got a silent ‘g’, but this time it’s right at the beginning of the word.
‘Gnaw’ is a verb which means: to bite or chew something repeatedly.
“I have a bad habit. I gnaw on the end of my pencil when I am concentrating.”
High has two silent letters
When the ‘i-g-h’ are grouped together in English, it makes an ‘i’ sound, so the ‘g’ and ‘h’ are both silent.
‘High’ is an adjective which means: tall or a long distance above the ground.
“I can’t jump over that fence, it’s too high.”
Light has two silent letters
This is another example of the ‘igh’ rule.
‘Light’ is a noun which we use to describe the brightness which comes from the sun, fire and electrical devices.
“It’s too dark. Could you turn the light on?”
Reign has a silent g
Here’s another example of a silent ‘g’ in the middle of a word.
‘Reign’ is a verb which means: to be the king or queen of a country.
“Queen Victoria reigned over Britain from 1837 to 1901.”
How to pronounce though
‘o-u-g-h’ is quite a common group of letters in English, but it sounds differently almost every time. In this example, it makes an ‘o’ sound, but in ‘cough’ for example, it makes a very different sound.
‘Though’ is a conjunction which means: despite the fact that.
“The new art for the wall is going to arrive this week, though I’m not sure which day.”
How to pronounce through
Here’s another example of that ‘o-u-g-h’ ending.
‘Through’ is a preposition and an adverb which means: from one side of something to the other.
“If you walk through the car park, you should find me.”
Honest has a silent h
Here we have a silent ‘h’ at the beginning of the word. This one actually changes the words you might use around it because ‘honest’ does begin with a consonant but it sounds like it begins with ‘o’, which is a vowel. Therefore, if you’re using a determiner, you need to use ‘an’ rather than ‘a’.
‘Honest’ is an adjective, which means: telling the truth or able to be trusted.
“Give me your honest opinion… what do you think of my haircut?”
Ghost has a silent h
The ‘h’ is silent.
‘Ghost’ is the noun we use to describe the spirit of a dead person, sometimes represented as a pale image of a person.
“Do you believe in ghosts?”
Business has a silent i
Here we have a silent ‘i’.
‘Business’ is the noun we use to describe the activity of buying and selling goods and services.
“My sister has recently opened her own business. It’s a recruitment agency.”
Knife has a silent k
‘Knife’ has a silent ‘k’ at the beginning of the word.
‘Knife’ is a noun we use to describe the tool with a sharp blade which we use for cutting food.
“I’m trying to prepare dinner but this knife is not sharp enough.”
Know has a silent k
Here’s another example of a silent ‘k’ at the beginning of a word.
‘Know’ is a verb which means to have or understand information.
“Excuse me, do you know the way to the shopping centre?”
Would silent letters
The same spelling and pronunciation rule applies to ‘could’ and ‘should’.
‘Would’ is a modal verb which is used to refer to future time from a point of view of the past.
“She said she would call me back but she never did.”
Half has a silent l
Here’s another example of a silent ‘l’.
‘Half’ is a noun, pronoun, predeterminer, adjective and adverb all rolled into one. It means either of the two equal parts.
“Do you want half of this sandwich? It’s so nice but I can’t eat it all.”
Autumn has a silent n
The ’n’ at the end of the word is silent.
‘Autumn’ is the noun we use to describe the season of the year between Summer and Winter.
“Autumn is my favourite season. I love it when the leaves turn orange and we can wear cosy jumpers.”
Psychology has a silent p
The ‘p’ at the beginning fo the word ‘psychology’ is silent.
‘Psychology’ is the noun we use to describe the study of the mind.
“I learned about depression in my Psychology class at college.”
Receipt has a silent p
Here’s another example of a silent ‘p’.
‘Receipt’ is the noun we use to describe the paper or digital proof that you have paid for something.
“I want to return these shoes because they don’t fit but I’ve lost the receipt.”
Island has a silent s
‘Island’ is spelt with a silent ’s’.
‘Island’ is the noun we use to describe a piece of land which is completely surrounded by water.
“The island of Great Britain has a population of over 66 million.”
Ballet has a silent t
In the word ‘ballet’, the ‘e-t’ ending makes an ‘ay’ sound.
‘Ballet’ is the noun we use to describe a traditional type of dancing.
“I’ve been learning ballet since I was 4.”
Castle has a silent t
Here we have another silent ’t’ but this time in the middle of the word.
‘Castle’ is the noun we use to describe a large, strong building, built in the past by a ruler or important person to protect the people inside from attack.
“Norwich is famous for its castle, which is now a museum so you can walk around inside.”
Listen has a silent t
No matter how carefully you listen, you won’t be able to hear that ’t’… because it’s silent.
‘Listen’ is a verb which means to give attention to someone or something in order to hear it.
“I’ve asked her to do her homework but she won’t listen.”
Colleague has a silent u
The end of this word is pronounced quite strangely, partly because of that silent ‘u’.
‘Colleague’ is the noun we use to describe a person you work with.
“I don’t like working there very much. The work is very boring and I don’t really get on well with my colleagues.”
Guess has a silent u
Here’s another example of a silent ‘u’.
‘Guess’ is a verb which means to give an answer you are not certain about.
“I didn’t know the answer so I had to guess.”
Guide has a silent u
Again, we have the silent ‘u’ after ‘g’.
‘Guide’ is a verb which means: to show someone around a place.
“Allow me to guide you through the museum.”
Answer has a silent W
The ‘w’ here is silent.
‘Answer’ is verb which means to respond to a question, phone call or letter.
“I called him but he did not answer.”
Sword has a silent w
For our last example, we have another silent ‘w’.
‘Sword’ is the noun we use to describe a weapon with a long, metal blade and a handle.
“Have you heard the story of the sword in the stone?”
Now watch this video on how to pronounce silent letter words
Watch this video to see ten common words with silent letters.
Words collected into a list of silent letters
Silent A Words
A is silent when it comes before ‘lly’ – artistically, logically, musically, naturally, romantically, stoically.
Silent B Words
B is silent when it comes before t or after m – bomb, climb, comb, debt, doubt, dumb, numb, plumber, subtle, subpoena, thumb, tomb, womb.
Silent C Words
C is silent in words like – acquire, acquit, background, blackboard, muscle, scissors, science.
Silent CH Words
CH – yacht
Silent D Words
D is silent in the words – handkerchief, handsome, Wednesday, pledge, grudge, sandwich.
Silent E Words
E is silent often when an e ends a word – bridge, five, mute, plaque, race.
Silent G Words
G is silent when it comes before an n or ht – align, champagne, diaphragm, gnash, gnat, gnaw, high, laugh, light, reign, sign.
Silent GH Words
GH silent words include – alight, bought, draught, drought, eight, right, though, thought, thorough, through, weight.
Silent H Words
H silent letter words include – choir, ghost, hour, honour, honest, rhyme, rhythm, thyme, Thailand, what, where, whether, why, when, which, white.
Silent K Words
K is silent when it comes before an n – knack, knee, knickers, knife, knight, knit, knock, knob, knot, know, knowledge, knuckle.
Silent L Words
L is silent often when it comes after the vowels a, o and u – almond, balm, calf, calm, could, folk, half, salmon, should, talk, walk, would.
Silent M Words
M is silent only one silent m – mnemonic.
Silent N Words
N is silent when it comes after an m – autumn, column, condemn, damn, hymn, government, solemn.
Silent P Words
P is a silent letter at the beginning of many words using the combinations ps, pt and pn. corps, coup, cupboard, pneumonia, psalm, pseudonym, psychologist, pterosaurs, receipt, raspberry.
(NOTE – PH is sometimes pronounced F. For example: telephone, alphabet, paragraph)
Silent R Words
R is silent when the next sound is a consonant sound, or if no sound follows) – bird, butter, dirt, finger, fork heart, heard, park, surprise, word, world. EXCEPTION: iron
Silent S Words
S is silent when it comes before L – aisle, island, debris, isle, viscount.
Silent T Words
T is a silent letter in the words – apostle, bustle, ballet, Christmas, depot, fasten, hustle, listen, mortgage, often, soften, trestle, thistle, wrestle, whistle.
Silent TH Words
TH silent letter words include – asthma and asthmatic
Silent U Words
U is silent when it comes after g and before a vowel – guard, guest, guess, guide, guilty, guitar, league, ought.
Silent W Words
W is silent when it comes before an h or r – answer, sword, two, who, whole, whom, whose, wrangle, wrap, wreck, wrestle, wriggle, wrist, write, wrinkle, wrong, wrung.
Silent Letter Words Video
Now check your pronunciation of the silent letter words in this video. We’ve recorded all the corect pronunciation of silent letter words in the lists above.
Silent Letter Words PDF Download
Enter your details and sign up to get the Silent Letters PDF download for this lesson. Just complete the form below.
FREE MASTERCLASS TODAY!
The Four Step System For English Fluency
Here's what you'll learn:
- 4 biggest mistakes to avoid so you don't get STUCK
- My 4 ESSENTIAL STEPS to achieve fluency WITHOUT spending $$$$s on private classes
- 1 thing EVERYONE needs for fluency, but 90% don't do