The complete guide to the notorious English silent letters to immediately improve your pronunciation

Updated: Oct 28, 2019

One of the notorious difficulties of English spelling and pronunciation is silent letters. And we have a lot of those! As a matter of fact, only 5 of the 21 English consonants cannot happen to be silent letters! These are F, J, Q, V and Y.

What are silent letters and why do we have them?

Silent letters are the ones which appear in the spelling of the word but you don’t pronounce them. We can find silent letters in English mainly because of the Latin, Greek and French origin of words. Let me show you some examples:

Spell Pronounce

climb /klaɪm/ --> letter b is silent

handsome /ˈhænsəm/ --> letter d and e are silent

sign /saɪn/ --> letter g is silent

hour /aʊə $ aʊr/ --> letter h is silent, letter r can be silent

The benefits of knowing when a letter is silent

Why should you know about silent letter rules? Let me answer your question with some example sentences. Look at these three simple sentences. They are full of silent letters. Read them with and without the underlined letters.

I felt numb and dumbfounded by the news of his debt.

I guess he just needs to adjust to the new business.

Let’s walk and talk about what we could do on this island.

Do you see why you should know about silent letter rules? Pronouncing silent letters makes your sentences sound strange.

The secret to successfully tackling with silent consonant letters in English

Good news: As English spelling in general, silent letters are also not irregular. There are simple letter combinations that you can remember and instantly know when a letter is silent.

Download our collection of English silent consonants for free here.

Silent Vowel Letters in English

English has only 5 vowel letters, A, E, I, O, U, all of which can be silent letters. However, they are not as often silent as some of the consonant letters.

Learn about silent vowel letters for free with the help of this table.

Note: English has several vowel digraphs, which should not be considered silent letters.

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