Mrs.Sandra Molina Castillo.
There are many silent letters in the English
language, and they can cause difficulties for
people learning English as a second language.
Silent letters can also cause problems for native
children learning to read, spell and speak.
Silent letters are the letters in words that make no
difference to the sound. So, to put it simply, the
letter or letters in a particular word that are silent,
do not appear in the pronunciation of the word.
But, they do however, appear in the spelling.
Silent letters make it very difficult for English
learners as they give no clue as to how to
correctly spell out and pronounce the word. In
fact, most of the common spelling mistakes seen
in English writing will be words which feature one
or more silent letters.
Many English words contain silent consonants. The
words may be difficult to spell because they cannot
be sounded out, and there are no general guidelines
for spelling them. Study the words so that you can
visualize them as you write.
Each of the words in the Word Bank contain silent
silent n: column
silent s: island
silent b: doubt
silent k: knack
silent gh: drought
silent p: psalm, psychology
silent h: ghetto
silent g: gnarled
silent w: wrath
Reasons For Silent Letters
◙ Sometimes, there is an exact reason as to why a
word will have silent letters.
◙ To be able to distinguish the words which sound
similar - For example: ‘Plum – Plumb’, ‘Hole –
Whole’ or ‘Our – Hour’.
◙ We sometimes use silent letters in the English
language to show long vowels or hard consonants.
Silent letters show the long vowels in rid/ride; the
silent letters show the hard consonants in
Causes Of Silent Letters
There are a few reasons why we may have
words that feature silent letters.
Historical Change – The sound may have
dropped out of the word over a certain length of
time, but the spelling of that word will have
stayed the same: hope, knot, light.
New Letter Added – Silent letters may have
been added to make the spelling appear more
‘Latin’ or ‘French’: Island, debt, victual.
Borrowing From Another Language – Some
English words originate from other foreign
languages, which is why we may see silent
letters: Myrrh, champagne, khaki.
◙ Silent letters are sometimes used when
connecting root words with prefixes and suffixes.
◙ There are no rules where silent letters are
concerned and unfortunately, you will just have to
learn to remember them. However, you may
notice that some particular letters in the English
alphabet tend to be silent, whereas others will
always be heard. The letters N, D, W, G, U, H, T,
K, B and L are often found to be silent in many
◙ Here are some examples of silent letters in
Silent consonants - Pronunciation
1) Cupboard, pub, pupil - cupboard
2) Bird, tiger, snake - bird
3) Wall, science, cave - science
4) Tall, desk, half - half
5) Wednesday, Monday, Sunday - Wednesday
6) Country, child, knife - knife
7) Island, address, some - island
8) Window, paint, pencil - window
9) Hundred, green, white - white
10) Lamp, autumn, bath - autumn
Consonants that are never
spoken in English
• Write the word into the gap where you do
not pronounce one or more consonants.
Example: pencil, hour, cousin - ____
Answer: pencil, hour, cousin – hour.
1) Maths, clothes, law:
2) Skirt, memory, woman:
3) Pound, bus, whole:
4) Tin, sign, dish:
5) Duty, scissors, gun:
6) Doubt, music, step:
7) Major, salary, know:
8) Fight, tree, write:
9) Peanut, dumb, disguise:
10) Honour, brilliant, competence:
1) Maths, clothes, law - law
2) Skirt, memory, woman - skirt
3) Pound, bus, whole - whole
4) Tin, sign, dish - sign
5) Duty, scissors, gun - scissors
6) Doubt, music, step - doubt
7) Major, salary, know - know
8) Fight, tree, write - write
9) Peanut, dumb, disguise - dumb
10) Honour, brilliant, competence - honour
• Word Bank
• Key Concepts
Silent N Silent D Silent G
☻Damn ☻Wednesday ☻Sign
☻Hymn ☻Handsome ☻Resign
Silent U Silent H Silent T
♦ Guard ♦ Why ♦ Soften
♦ Guess ♦ When ♦ Listen
♦ Guitar ♦ Which ♦ Match
♦ Building ♦ What ♦ Butcher
♦ Rogue ♦ Whether ♦ Castle
♦ Guest ♦ Ghost ♦ Christmas
♦ Biscuit ♦ White
♦ Tongue ♦ While
Silent L Silent W Silent K Silent B
■ Palm ■ Wreck ■ Knot ■ Crumb
■ Yolk ■ Wrestling ■ Knitting ■ Climbing
■ Almond ■ Whole ■ Know ■ Thumb
■ Salmon ■ Sword ■ Knee ■ Lamb
■ Talk ■ Two ■ Knock ■ Doubt
■ Walk ■ Wrong ■ Knight ■ Limb
■ Half ■ Writing ■ Knuckle ■ Plumber
■ Wrist ■ Knickers ■ Bomb
Taking the time to study English
silent letters will help any student in
the long run. They can cause
confusion amongst learners of the
language, but with persistence and
constant practice, silent letters should
be a breeze.
Silent letters factsheet
Silent letters are letters that you can't hear
when you say the word,
but that are there when you write the word.
There are no rules, you just have to learn
Silent N Silent D Silent G Silent U
Autumn Edge Gnome Guest
Damn Hedge Gnarl Guess
Hymn Wednesday Sign Guitar
Column Handsome Resign Guard
Handkerchief Design Building
Badge Foreigner Guilty
Silent H Silent T Silent K Silent B Silent L Silent
What Witch Knife Lamb Almond Wren
When Fasten Knee Thumb Palm Wrote
Why Castle Knot Numb Yolk Wrestling
Which Watch Knitting Crumb Calm Sword
French Words and Expressions
Learn the true meanings of French words and
expressions commonly used in English
Over the years, the English language has borrowed
a great number of French words and expressions.
Some of this vocabulary has been so completely
absorbed by English that speakers might not realize
its origins. Other words and expressions have
retained their "Frenchness" - a certain je ne sais
quoi which speakers tend to be much more aware of
(although this awareness does not usually extend to
actually pronouncing the word in French). The
following is a list of French words and expressions
which are commonly used in English.
► Art déco: decorative art Short for art décoratif.
► Attaché: attached A person assigned to a diplomatic
► Au pair: at par A person who works for a family.
(cleaning and/or teaching the children) in exchange for
room and board.
► Avant-garde: before guard Innovative, especially in the
Blonde: fair-haired This is the only adjective in English
which agrees in gender with the person it modifies: blond
is for a man and blonde for a woman. Note that these
can also be nouns.
► Bon appétit: good appetite The closest English
equivalent is "Enjoy your meal."
► Bon vivant: good "liver" Someone who lives well, who
knows how to enjoy life.
► Bon voyage: good trip English has "Have a good trip,"
but Bon voyage is more elegant.
► Brunette: small, dark-haired female The French word
brun, dark-haired, is what English really means by
"brunette." The -ette suffix indicates that the subject is
small and female.
► Café au lait: coffee with milk Same thing as the Spanish
term café con leche.
► C'est la vie: that's life Same meaning and usage in both
► Chic: stylish Chic sounds more chic than "stylish."
► Déjà vu: already seen This is a grammatical structure in
French, as in Je l'ai déjà vu=> I've already seen it. It can
also disparage a style or technique that has already
been done, as in Son style est déjà vu=> His style is not
In English, déjà vu refers to the scientific phenomenon of
feeling like you have already seen or done something
when you're sure that you haven't: a feeling of déjà vu =
une impression de déjà vu.
► Eau de Cologne: water from Cologne This is often cut
down to simply "cologne" in English. Cologne is the
French and English name for the German city Köln.
► Eau de toilette: toilet water Toilet here does not refer to
a commode - see toilette, below. Eau de toilette is a very
Fiancée: engaged person, betrothed Note that fiancé
refers to a man and fiancée to a woman.
► Genre: type Used mostly in art and film - "I really like this
► Je ne sais quoi: I don't know what Used to indicate a
"certain something," as in "I really like Ann. She has a
certain je ne sais quoi that I find very appealing."
► Laissez-faire: let it be A policy of non-interference. Note
the expression in French is laisser-faire.
► Matinée: morning In English, refers to the day's first
showing of a movie or play. Can also refer to a midday
romp with one's lover.
► Rouge: red The English refers to a reddish cosmetic or
metal/glass-polishing powder, and can be a noun or a
► RSVP: respond please This abbreviation stands for
Répondez, s'il vous plaît, which means that "Please
RSVP" is redundant.
► Tête-à-tête: head to head A private talk or visit with
► Toilette: toilet In French, this refers both to the toilet
itself and anything related to toiletries; thus the
expression "to do one's toilette" - brush hair, do makeup,
etc. See eau de toilette, above.
► Touché: touched Originally used in fencing, now
equivalent to "you got me."
► Voilà !: There it is! Nearly every time I see this in
English, it is misspelled as "voilá" or "violà."