Silent Letters In English From A To Z

The English language has a lot of silent letters. Silent letters cause difficulties for both native speakers and English learners, because they make the spelling of words different from their pronunciation.
Here’s a list of common words with silent letters from A to Z!

Silent letters can distinguish between homophones, e.g. in/inn; be/bee; lent/leant. 
This is an aid to readers already familiar with both words.

There are a lot of silent letters in English. This is because although the pronunciation of some words has changed over the last two or three hundred years the spelling has stayed the same.

There aren't many hard and fast rules, it's more a matter of learning which letters are silent in certain combinations of letters. Here are some of the most common silent letters. 

In the following examples, all silent letters are given in brackets

Silent 'b'

The 'b' is silent in the combination 'mb' at the end of a word. For example:
The 'b' is silent in the combination 'bt'. For example:
but not in some words, e.g. obtain, unobtrusive

Silent 'd' 

The 'd' is silent in the combination 'dg'. For example:

Silent 'k'

The 'k' is silent in the combination 'kn'. For example:

Silent 'n' 

The 'n' is silent in the combination 'mn' at the end of a word. For example:

Silent 'p' 

The 'p' is silent in the combination 'ps' at the beginning of a word. For example:

Silent 'h' 

The 'h' is silent at the end of word when it follows a vowel. For example:
The 'h' is silent between two vowels. For example:
The 'h' is silent after the letter 'r'. For example:
The 'h' is silent after the letters 'ex' For example:
but not in some words, e.g. exhale, exhume

Silent letters may give an insight into the meaning or origin of a word, e.g. vineyard suggests vines more than the phonetic 'vinyard' would.
Silent letters help to show long vowels e.g. rid/ride

Silent letters help to show 'hard' consonants e.g. guest/gest

They can help to connect different forms of the same word e.g. resign/resignation

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