Learning Silent Letter Words

silent letter graphic

About 60% of English words contain silent letters. So it’s important for our kids to learn how to spot them.

There are some rules that will help explain which letters are silent, but as with all English rules – there are always exceptions to the rule.

Silent A Words

Rule: A is not pronounced in many adverbs, where the words ends in –ally. For example: stoically, logically.

Here's a list of common silent A words:
silent A words

Silent B Words

Rule 1: B is not pronounced after m at the end of the word. For example: limb, comb, thumb

Rule 2: B is usually not pronounced before t at the end of a root word. For example: debt, subtle, doubt

Here’s a list of common silent B words:

silent B words

Silent C Words

Rule 1: C is not pronounced in the combination sc. For example: scissors, scenario, muscle

 

As we mentioned, there are often exceptions to the rule in English.

Here are the sc exceptions: sclera, sclerosis, muscovado, sceptic

Rule 2: C is usually redundant before the letter k or q. For example: quick, acquaintance

Here’s a list of common silent C words:
Silent C words

Silent CH Words

This one is easy – there is only one silent ch word – yacht.

Silent D Words

Rule 1: D is not pronounced in the following common words: Wednesday, sandwich, handsome, handkerchief

Rule 2: D is also not pronounced in the combination dg. For example: pledge, hedge

Here’s a list of common silent D words:
silent D words

Silent E Words

Rule: E is most commonly not pronounced at the end of words. For example: peace, homemade, horse
There are exceptions to this rule – giraffe, brunette, cassette, gazelle – for example.

Here’s a list of some of the hundreds of common silent E words:
silent E words

Silent G Words

Rule: G is often not pronounced when it comes after n. For example: foreign, design, align

The exceptions are magnet, igneous, cognitive, signature

Here’s a list of common silent G words:
silent G words

Silent GH Words

Rule 1: GH is not pronounced with it comes after a vowel. For example: drought, daughter, light

The exceptions are compound words, such as doghouse and foghorn

Rule 2: GH is sometimes pronounced f. For example: tough, laugh, enough


Here’s a list of common silent GH words:
silent GH words

Silent H Words

Rule 1: H is not pronounced when it comes after w. For example: whisper, what, where

Rule 2: H is not pronounced at the beginning of many words. For example; hour, honest, heir

There are some exceptions here, including hill, history, height, happy, hereditary

Rule 3: H is often not pronounced when it comes after c, g or r. For example: choir, echo, rhythm

Here’s a list of common silent H words:
silent H words

Silent K Words

Rule: K is not pronounced when it comes before an n at the beginning of a word. For example: knee, know, knock.

Here’s a list of common silent K words:
silent K words

Silent L Words

Rule: L is not pronounced after the vowels a, o and u. For example: calm, would, salmon.
The exceptions to the rule are: halo, bulk, sulk, hold, sold, fold and mould.

Here’s a list of common silent L words:

silent L words

Silent M Words


There is only one silent M word – mnemonic.

Silent N Words

Rule: N is not pronounced when it comes after m at the end of a word. For example: solemn, hymn, autumn.

There are exceptions, including chimney, alumni, circumnavigate, dimness, gymnastics, randomness.

Here’s a list of common silent N words:
silent N words

Silent P Words

Rule: P is not pronounced at the beginning of many words using the combinations ps, pt and pn. For example: pseudonym, pneumonia, psychologist.

Here’s a list of common silent P words:

silent P words

Silent PH Words

Rule: PH is sometimes pronounced F. For example: telephone, alphabet.


Here’s a list of common silent PH words:

silent PH words

Silent S Words

Rule: S is not pronounced before l and in the following words.

Here’s a list of common silent S words:

silent S words

Silent T Words

Rule: T is not pronounced in many common words, including:

silent T words

Silent U

Rule: U is not pronounced with it comes after g and before a vowel. For example: guess, guitar.

Here’s a list of common silent U words:

silent U words

Silent W Words

Rule 1: W is not pronounced at the beginning of a word where the letter that follows is r. For example: write, wrong, wrist.

Here’s a list of common silent W words:
silent W words

 

Rule 2: W is not pronounced in the following words:

silent W words

We have put together this sheet of common silent letter words for you to print out.