• IELTS

English Language Improvement: Learning Silent Words

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  • By:CANAM Group
  • Updated On:Apr 29,2024 04:44 PM IST

• A silent letter is an alphabet or combination of the alphabets that is usually not pronounced in a word.


• 'b' in subtle, 'c' in scissors can be regarded as silent letters. 


• There are a few rules to identify common silent letters in different words. 

English language improvement.webpSilent letters are one of the most important aspects of the English language. Although they are not usually pronounced, they can make a huge difference in how you write and speak words. Mastering silent letters is a critical component of learning and speaking English, especially if you want to excel in tasks such as IELTS. 

By understanding the rules that govern silent letters, you can improve your pronunciation, spelling, and intonation and further avoid common mistakes that may hinder your progress. So take the time to read below and familiarize yourself with these essential pieces of vocabulary. You'll be amazed at how much it can improve your English skills!

Rules for Silent Letters & Words in English

Silent letters in English, often unnoticed, carry the secrets of pronunciation. By understanding these elements, we can grasp a better understanding of the language. Let's dive into silent letters, like secret codes in words. It's fun to find and understand them! 

Letters/ Letter CombinationsRules
B• The letter B is usually silent after M at the end of a word (e.g., comb, thumb).
• It remains unpronounced before the letter T (e.g., doubt, subtle).
C• The letter C is typically silent in the combination of SC (e.g., scissors, ascend).
• It remains mute before the letters K and Q (e.g., acquiesce, acquit).
DThe letter D is silent when it appears before the letters N and G (e.g., Wednesday, cadge).
E• If the letter E comes at the end of words, it is generally not pronounced (e.g., fore, table).
• Sometimes, E may not be pronounced when it occurs before the letter D in the second and third forms of verbs (e.g., bored, fixed).
GThe letter G is not pronounced when it comes before N in a word (e.g., design, foreign).
GHGH is not pronounced when it follows a vowel in a word (e.g., high, thought). Exceptions exist for compound words.
HThe letter H is usually silent when it appears after W (e.g., why, what).
KThe letter K is always silent when it precedes the letter N in a word. (e.g., knife, know, knight).
LThe letter L is usually not pronounced after the vowels: A, O, and U. (e.g., calf, half, palm).
NThe letter N is not pronounced when it comes after M at the end of a word. (e.g., column, damn, solemn).
PThe letter P is not pronounced at the beginning of many words using the combinations PS, PT, and PN. (e.g., psalm, psephology, psychology).
PHPH is sometimes pronounced like F. (e.g., paragraph, elephant, telephone).
SThe letter S is not pronounced before L in the following words, aisle, island, isle, and islet.
TThe letter T is not pronounced in the following common English words: castle, Christmas, fasten, listen, often, beret, Chevrolet, whistle, thistle, bustle, hasten, soften, rapport, gourmet, ballet.
UThe letter U is not pronounced when it comes after G and before a vowel in a word. (e.g., guide, guest, guard, guest).
WThe letter W is not pronounced at the beginning of a word when it is before the letter R. (e.g., write, wrest, wrong, wrack, wrap)


These rules for silent words in English can help you get a brief idea of the pronunciation of words with silent letters in them. Silent words, spelling, and vocabulary can be the golden ticket to the IELTS success you are longing for. 

Now, let's look at a few examples to reinforce our understanding of silent words and letters in English. 

Examples & Relevance of Silent Letters in English

There are hundreds of English words with surprising silent letters. Here, we look at some common words with silent letters and how to pronounce them.

LetterExamplesPronunciation
BCombKohm
CScissorsSiz + Uhz
DHandsomeHansuhm
EBreathBreedh
KKneeNee
LHalf Haaf
PPsychologySy + Kol + Uh + Jee
UBiscuitBiskit
NDamnDam
TCastleKaa + Suhl


The pronunciations of the word can give you a clearer idea about the silent letter in the given word. 

It's important to note that the spelling of a word may not always match its pronunciation. As depicted in the table above, this can lead to confusion and errors in communication. Being aware of these differences can help us avoid misunderstandings and ensure effective communication.

Conclusion 


The silent symphony of English plays a significant role in the language and enhances the way we read or write any piece of information. It helps us better understand spelling, pronunciation, and usage of particular words.

Remember, learning about silent letters and words in English can help you discover this language better and write more efficiently. Especially, while preparing for language proficiency tests like IELTS.  Moreover, to ace the preparation for these tests you can seek classes and guidance from the top tutors in Canamprep - Best IELTS institute in India

FAQ

English spelling as well as pronunciation might get challenging as a result of silent letters, which often arise from historical changes in articulation of boring words adopted from other languages.
To improve pronunciation, rules for silent letters should be studied and practiced. Frequent interaction with spoken English, including listening to native speakers and imitating the pronunciation can also help improve your skills.
Yes, there are exceptions to the rules of silent letters. Some words may not follow the typical patterns due to which it becomes essential to familiarize yourself with these exceptions by practicing.
Silent letters alone do not alter the meaning of the word but they do impact the pronunciation and spelling which may result in difficulties in communication due to mispronouncing or omitting a silent letter.
To remember the rules, practice is crucial which can be done by engaging in regular reading, writing, and listening exercises. Using pronunciation guides, dictionaries and online resources can reinforce your understanding and retention of the rules. 

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