[2.2] Difficult Sounds: Silent Consonants

Many people have problems with silent consonants in English words; in debt or doubt, for example. Unfortunately, there’s no rule to solve this problem, but below you will find a table of the most common ones.

Silent consonants in some common words

b

final –mb

bomb, climb, dumb, lamb, thumb; also derived forms: dumber, bomber; otherwise –mb pronounced: lumber, timber, number

 

final -bt

debt, doubt; also debtor, doubtful; subtle

c

mainly in sc /s/

scene, science, scissors, ascend, crescent, muscle (BUT muscular /sk/) 

d

medial

Wednesday /’wenzdeɪ/, sandwich, grandfather, handsome

g

initial and final gn

gnash, gnat, align, sign, foreign, reign (BUT signal with sounded /g/)

 

final gm

paradigm, diaphragm

h

medial (after ex- and intervocalic)

exhaust, exhibit, exhilarate, exhort, exhume, , vehicle, vehement, Graham

 

initial in common words

heir, honest, honor, hour

k

initial kn

kneel, knife, know, knowledge

l

al = /ɑ/

calf, half, calm, palm, salmon; also chalk, stalk, talk, walk

 

ould = /ʊd/

should, could, would

n

final mn

autumn, condemn, column, damn, hymn, solemn

p

initial pn, ps

pneumatic, pneumonia, psychologist, psychiatrist, pseudo-

 

others

coup, corps, cupboard. raspberry, receipt, Campbell

s

exceptions

island, isle, aisle

t

final –stle, -sten

castle, whistle, wrestle, fasten, listen, moisten

 

ALSO

Christmas, soften, often

 

French loans

ballet, buffet, cachet, chalet, depot, mortgage,

w

initial wh /h/

who, whom, whose, whole

 

initial wr

wrath, write, wrench, wry

 

ALSO

answer, sword, two