Here is a list of common letter combinations with silent letters. This list contains most of the silent letters that give English as a second language students difficulties.
B is not pronounced when following M at the end of a word.
C is not pronounced in the ending “scle”
D is not pronounced in the following common words:
E is not pronounced at the end of words and usually makes the vowel long.
G is not often not pronounced when followed by an N
GH is not pronounced before T and at the end of many words
H is not pronounced when following W. Some speakers whisper the H before the W.
H is not pronounced at the beginning of many words. Use the article “an” with unvoiced H. Here are some of the most common:
K is not pronounced when followed by N at the beginning of a word.
L is often not pronounced before L, D, F, M, K.
N is not pronounced following M at the end of a word.
P is not pronounced at the beginning of many words using the suffix “psych” and “pneu”.
S is not pronounced before L in the following words:
T is not pronounced in these common words:
U is not pronounced before after G and before a vowel.
W is not pronounced at the beginning of a word followed by an R
W is not pronounced with these three pronouns:
Vowels are often “silent” when paired with other vowels (digraphs), or can affect the pronunciation of other vowels without being sounded themselves.
- In EA words — each, peach, teach, team, bean, cleave, heave, lead (verb or primary position), fear, gear, bread, meant
- In AI words – aisle
- In OA or AO words — boar, coal, loan, float, cocoa, pharaoh,
- Ending words with vowel-consonant-vowel — care, fate, fete, kite, like, dole, hone, dote, cute, fuse, butte,
- In EA words — bear, pear, tear, lead (element)
- In EI words — heist, feisty
- In EU words — feud, eugenics, euphemism
- In OE words — shoe, toe
- In UE words — fuel, hue, queue
- In AI words– bail, pail, tail, lain, paint, bait, aileron, maize
- In EI and IE words — deceive, believe, retrieve
- In IO words — fashion, cushion
- In UI words — juice, sluice, suit
Silent O (other than OU as ow, or oo as in rouge, roulette)
- EO words — jeopardy, leopard, people
- OU words — country, southern
Silent U (other than OU as ow, or oo as in rouge, roulette)
- AU words : gauge, laugh, guard
- UE words : guess, guest, league, plague, tongue, catalogue
- UI words : guide, guile, guilt, build, guitar
- Other words through usage : business (U sounds like I)