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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: SILENT LETTERS with RULES | English Speaking, Pronunciation, & Vocabulary, American English

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Sshh.

Im the D inWednesday’.

Im the B in DEBT. Im busy being silent.

Today were going over silent letters in English and some of the rules for them, and the many exceptions

that these rules have.

Stick with us, youre going to learn a lot about correct English pronunciation.

Whats up with all these silent letters?

Lets just go through the alphabet.

Well start with A.

A is silent in the suffixally.

And its tricky, because it looks like it should be a syllable, but its not.

Logically.

Not Lo-gic-a-ly. Just logically.

Typically. Logically. Typically. Radically.

Every time you seeally at the end of a word, is the A silent? No, sorry, that would be too simple.

Vocally, is not vok-li. It is three syllables.

Legally is not le-gli.

Its three syllables.

So how to do you know by looking? Well, you dont.

This is what truly makes American English hard.

But many other words withally at the ending have a silent A.

B.

Now there are some clearer rules here, thankfully.

We dont pronounce B after M.

Climb, dumb, bomb, comb, thumb.

All of these end in the M sound.

If I did pronounce the B, it would sound like this: climb.

Climb.

But thats not right, its climb.

Oh great! Every time you see M followed by B, the B in silent.

No. Thats not actually true.

As you get into longer words, you'll have to be a little more aware.

For example, amber.

The M is at the end of the first syllable, and the B is at the beginning of the second syllable.

We do pronounce both the M and the B.

Amber. Amber. Say that with me. Amber.

Amber is like a stone, but I dont think it actually is a stone, it's used a lot in jewelry.

Its also a word to describe this color.

Its also a name for women.

Amber.

We also have ambivalent.

Ambassador. Akimbo. Arms akimbo is when your arms are like this, bent. Akimbo.

These are all examples of B NOT silent after M because its in a different syllable.

Ambivalent, ambassador, akimbo.

Theres another case where the B is silent, when it comes before a T.

Debt, subtle, doubt.

No B sound in any of these words.

Debt, subtle, doubt.

What about this rule? Always?

Is a B before T always silent? No. In longer words, youll find lots of exceptions.

For example a compound word, where the first word ends in B and the next word begins with T, likebobtail’.

Bob, bob, bobtail. Its not ba-tail, bobtail. We do say that B.

Also with prefixes that end in B, like O-B and S-U-B.

Obtain.

B is not silent. Subtotal. B is not silent.

The Letter C. Its silent in the state name Connecticut. This middle C is silent, we dont say it at all.

Connecticut. It can be silent after S, like inmuscle’, ‘scissors’, ‘scent, ’ ‘fascinating’, orscene’.

But its not always silent like inscatterorscript’.

And sometimes it goes in a different direction and becomes an SH after S, like inconscienceorluscious’.

You know, lets stop and think about this for a second.

Everyruleweve studied, theres an exception. So why study the rule?

What were doing here is going over fairly common words with a silent letter.

American English pronunciation is not generally rule-oriented,

so you do have to learn the pronunciation of words individually.

But it is useful to be exposed to these general rules and these common words that have a silent letter.

So you can start learning them.

I had a student once who lived in the US and he worked at a seafood restaurant.

And he didnt know that L insalmonw as silent.

How would he if he had never learned that or been taught that before?

So what were doing here is exposing you to these silent letters,

and also making sure youre aware that these rules are not absolute rules that can be applied in every situation.

Ok, lets get to D. We have Wednesday.

Theres no rule here about why this D is silent, it just is in this word.

Its also silent inhandsome’.

In the wordsandwich’, if you looked that up in the dictionary, you WOULD see the D sound.

But its actually never pronounced that way. So Wednesday, Handsome: the dictionary says no D.

ButSandwich’, the dictionary does say D but it hasnt caught up with the actual habits of how we speak.

It's not uncommon to drop the D after N. so that's what's happening in Sandwich.

Also, words with the silent D, grandma and grandpa.

Now, with Sandwich, I talked about habit.

In the dictionary, it says there is a D sound but thats not our habit anymore.

The thing about the D between two consonants is its really common in our habit to drop that D.

To make it silent, even if thats not what the dictionary says.

This happens in words like sandpaper, soundproof, landmark, windmill.

We drop the D because it's between 2 other consonants.

Ive seen other teachers say the D is silent in a word likeedge’, ‘bridgeorknowledge’.

Heres the thing. In the wordedgethe consonant sound is the J sound which is written in IPA like this:

D, dd, plus ZH, zh, zh. So the J sound actually has a D in it.

So I dont think I would say the D is silent in these words. The D is part of the J sound.

Ok, lets move on.

The letter E.

Im going to go over a rule for this one, the ending E.

But first, take a look at this word.

Au-di-ble.

Theres no vowel sound at the end of that word.

Wheres the E sound?

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Okay, now, lets get back to that rule. Silent ending E.

Thisruleis taught quite a bit so youre probably already familiar with it.

Quite a bit. The wordquite’.

Im not saying a sound for the letter E on the end of the word, am I? Quite. Quite.

The word ends with the T sound.

Quite.

But if I take away the E in that spelling, I have a different word.

Quit.

So the ending E can affect the vowel before the final consonant. It makes itlonger”.

Quit, IH vowel, versus Quite, AI, AI diph thong, two sounds.

Quite a bit.

Now withbit’, if I added an E at the end there, the word would bebite’.

Again, T is the final sound. The extra E doesnt add an extra sound at the end,

but it does change the vowel to alongervowel sound.

Bite, bit.

This happens with a lot of words: hop, hope.

Dim, dime. Rob, robe. Rat, rate. Breath, breathe.

But note the wordcafé’, we do pronounce that ending E, even if it isnt written without the accent.

Café.

Also, a note about ED endings.

Regular verbs are written this way to show the past tense,

and now there are clear pronunciation rules for these.

If the unconjugated verb ends in T or D, then we do make a sound for the letter E in the ED ending,

and we have an extra syllable.

Like, land, landed.

But if the last letter of the unconjugated verb is any other letter,

then we dont make a sound for the letter E in the ED ending, and we just add a D or T sound.

For example, hum, hummed. Not hum-ed. Orpack’, packed. Not pack-ed.

I do have a video that goes over these rules for ED endings in a little bit more depth

with a few more examples so click here if youre interested or see the link in the video description.

The letter F.

Ok this letter is almost never silent, but actually,

the Merriam-Webster dictionary does give the primary pronunciation offifthwith a silent F in the middle.

Fifth. Thats how I say it, just the first F sound, IH vowel, and the TH at the end.

Fifth”.

The letter G.

This is silent when a word begins withGN’.

Gnome, gnat. Gnaw.

Also GN at the end of a word: design, sign, reign, foreign, assign, campaign.

Also, ‘GNE’, likechampagne’, cologne.

You know, I did some looking, and I didnt see any exceptions to these rules.

Wouldnt that be neat if we found a rule with no exceptions?

Also the combination GH after a vowel or diphthong, silent G.

Daughter, bright, though. Thigh, weigh, dough, eight.

But there are some exceptions to this rule: cough, rough, tough.

There, GH does make a sound, it's the F sound.

The letter H.

There are some common words that begin with a silent H, like hour, honor, honest, herb.

But most words that begin with an H do have an H sound, like home, hope, happy.

Words that begin with WH.

These words have two different pronunciations, but the most common one is definitely with a silent H.

Just a clean W sound: what, where, why, whistle.

Sometimes the CH combination makes a K sound,

which makes it feel like the H is silent, like inchoirorchaosorecho’.

When GH is at the beginning of a word, H is silent like inghostorghetto’.

H is silent after R like in rhyme, rhythm, and rhubarb.

But this rule doesnt work in compound words where the sounds are in two separate syllables, likeoverheard

orbearhug’, or in the wordperhaps’.

There, both sounds are pronounced.

Perhaps.

Perhaps this is a good time to take a minute, take a break and let all this silence set in.

The link to the second part of this two- part series is right here.

But if youre seeing this video in its first week, that video isnt ready yet,

its coming out on Tuesday of next week, so be here to see it.

If thats the case, I cannot recommend highly enough getting to know the International Phonetic Alphabet.

Lots of dictionaries use it and its your key to understanding the pronunciation of any word.

To knowing if any letters are silent.

I have put together a playlist where I go over the IPA symbols for each sound in American English

so you can really start to get comfortable with them.

Please do subscribe if you havent already and make sure notifications are enabled,

then come join me here every Tuesday

for we have a new video studying something interesting about American English pronunciation.

I love teaching you English, thank you so much for being here and see you next week.

The Description of SILENT LETTERS with RULES | English Speaking, Pronunciation, & Vocabulary, American English