• IELTS

Words and Pronunciation: Silent letters in IELTS Exam

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  • By:CANAM Group
  • Updated On:Jul 01,2023 05:51 PM IST

The 'silent' letters in English are a result of the invasion by French and Latin and standardization of sounds, making them difficult to pronounce on the IELTS test. The best way to prepare for the IELTS exam is to listen to the pronunciation of each word carefully and memorize and master these silent letters. Examples include the silent K, which is pronounced with a long 'I' vowel sound, and the silent P, which is pronounced with a short vowel sound.

Words and Pronunciation Silent letters in IELTS Exam.webp

In English language one rarely sounds out all the letters that are seen in a word. There are certain words in the English language, written in a way which seems different from their sound. The ‘silent’ letters are a result of various developments that the English language has gone through. The invasion by French and Latin language and standardization of sounds in the English Language has refined and softened English. It leads to silent letters in particular words. The ‘silent word’ is a baffling mystery for the IELTS test takers which thwarts them from achieving great scores.

Let us take a look at some common words with silent letters, and how to pronounce them:

The silent K 

 The letter K is a hard sounding letter.  When the letter ‘K’ precedes the letter ‘N’ at the start of the word, it becomes silent. For example

•  Knife — is pronounced with a long ‘I’ vowel sound, as in “life.”

•  Knit — is pronounced with a short vowel sound, as in “lit.”

•  ‘Know’ = noh. ‘Now’ = naow.

Knock, knack, knapsack, knickers, knuckle are some of the words in which you can witness the silent K at the beginning and hard K sound at the end of the word.

Also read: IELTS Eligibility

The silent P 

 This is one of the most exciting letters. Usually, the letter P makes a popping sound at the front of our mouth. It is traditionally silenced when it precedes the letter ‘S’. For example:

1. Psychology: pronounced as ‘Sychology’

2. Psychiatry: pronounced as ‘Sychiatry’ or so.

3. The letter P in words Pneumonia and receipt, is also silent.

The silent "T"

Sound of the letter ‘T’ is one of the most recognisable and robust sounds in the English language, but when it is used in the middle of L-I-S-T-E-N, it disappears. The T letter becomes slightly shorter than the letter ‘S’. Listen becomes lissen, whistle become Whissle.

There are a few more words where T is silent: Hustle, Jostle, Apostle, Bristle, and wrestle.

“Ough” Words:

Let us look at the words:

1. Though: The OUGH in though is pronounced like an ‘oh’ sound, just like you are saying THROW.

2. Through: The OUGH in through is pronounced with an -ew sound, just like you say ‘threw.’

The best way to get through these words is repetition. It is critical to memorize and master these silent letters. The best way to prepare for the IELTS exam is to listen to the pronunciation of each word very carefully. You will be able to identify which letter will remain silent, and which letter is prominent.

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Also read: IELTS Exam type

FAQ

Silent letters are letters that are written in words but are not pronounced when the words are spoken. Examples of silent letters include the "k" in "knee" and the "h" in "hour."
Silent letters are important to know for the IELTS exam because they can affect the pronunciation of words, which can impact your overall language proficiency score on the exam. Knowing how to pronounce words with silent letters correctly can also help you to communicate more effectively in English.
To learn to pronounce words with silent letters correctly for the IELTS exam, you can practice listening to and repeating words with silent letters, use pronunciation resources such as dictionaries and pronunciation guides, and work with a language tutor or teacher who can provide feedback and guidance on your pronunciation.
Yes, there are several common silent letters in English that you should know for the IELTS exam, including the "k" in words such as "knee," "knock," and "know," the "b" in words such as "doubt," the "h" in words such as "hour" and "honor," and the "g" in words such as "sign" and "foreign."

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