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Letters 1 - Silent Letters
Does the word 'pirate' have a silent 'P'?

Letters 1 - Silent Letters

English is not a phonetic language but by and large there is a direct relationship between the spelling of a word and its sound. However, there are words which are not pronounced the same way they are written. For instance, PREY and PRAY are pronounced similarly but spelled differently and WIND is a word that conveys two totally different meanings and is also pronounced two totally different ways!.

The English language is peculiar as far as its grammar is concerned and there is a class of words which have some letters in their spellings which are not pronounced. These are the silent letter words. Here are some examples:

DOUBT is a word in which the sound of B is not made use of in the pronunciation.
KNEW is a word in which the sound of K is not pronounced.
SOLEMN is a word in which the sound of N is not pronounced.

There are eleven letters in the English alphabet that are often (but not always!) silent in pronunciation. Sadly there are no set rules concerning the use of silent letters, but there are some pointers to be noted that may help you in deciding which letter (if any) is silent in a word other than sheer practice:

The letter K is silent when it is used before the letter N.
The letter N is silent when used after the letter M.
The letter T is often silent after the letter S, as in the example PESTLE.
The letter G is usually silent when used before H, as in LIGHT.

The best way to learn silent letters is to practice using them regularly and to start you off the quiz that follows will help you to learn more about them.

1.
Choose the group of words that has a silent N from the four options.
Firmness, Nap, Knife, Neck, Nine
Autumn, Column, Damn, Hymn, Condemn
Pony, Dinner, Rain, Animal, Canary
China, Moon, Train, Man, Green
Generally, the letter N is silent when it is used at the end of a word after the letter M
2.
Choose the group of words that has a silent H from the four options.
Heart, Height, Downhill, Fishhook, Helmet
Handshake, Hop, Hope, Horse, Hanger
Daughter, Naughty, Bough, Dough, Though
Redhead, Reheat, Seahorse, Uphill, Rehearsal
Generally, the letter H is silent when used with the letter G. Note that in HEIGHT it is only the last H which is silent
3.
Choose the group of words that has a silent T from the four options.
Tub, But, Late, Teach, Tomato
Ticket, Trick, Attitude, Button, Today
Tissue, Toaster, Tornado, Hot, Bite
Castle, Teeth, Listen, Christmas, Ballet
Generally, the letter T is silent when used with S. Note that in TEETH, the second T is silent. This is because T and H together form a new sound
4.
Choose the group of words that has a silent U from the four options.
Uniform, Unit, Union, United, Amuse
Cruise, Round, Prune, You, Mouse
Fuse, Abuse, Due, Plume, Pound
Biscuit, Circuit, Disguise, Guilt, Guitar
Generally, the letter U is silent when used before the letter I
5.
Choose the group of words that has a silent G from the four options.
High, Night, Bought, Caught, Sigh
Wagon, Sugar, Gone, Guess, Dug
Fog, Twig, Slug, Fig, Dig
August, Baggage, Begin, Bigger, Cougar
Generally, the letter G is silent when used before the letter H
6.
Choose the group of words that has a silent L from the four options.
Please, Place, Play, Globe, Glitter
Would, Should, Calf, Half, Talk
Owl, Hill, Pencil, Towel, Wheel
Olive, Jelly, Shoelace, Elbow, Elephant
Generally, the letter L is silent when used before the letters D, F and K at the end of a word
7.
Choose the group of words that has a silent P from the four options.
Receipt, Psalm, Pneumonia, Psychic, Coup
Pizza, Pirate, Sheep, Hoop, Cup
Happy, Paper, Sleep, Soap, Pacific Ocean
Papaya, Package, Grasshopper, Apology, Separate
There is no general rule that the letter P follows. For instance, while the P is silent in COUP, it is not silent in SOUP
8.
Choose the group of words that has a silent W from the four options.
Wait, Walk, Wall, Want, Warm
Hardware, Software, Hawaii, Window, Awake
Write, Wreak, Wrest, Wrist, Two
Pathway, Reward, Sidewalk, Worldwide, Water
Generally, the letter W is silent when used before the letter R. Note that in the word TWO this is not the case
9.
Choose the group of words that has a silent S from the four options.
Fossil, Beside, Insect, Eraser, House
Purse, Miss, Scoop, Slant, Smart
Island, Aisle, Debris, Precis, Chassis
Bus, Pass, Save, Sad, Sand
There are very few words with a silent S but generally S is silent when it is used after the letter I. Note that in the word CHASSIS, the last letter is silent whereas the SS in the middle is not
10.
Choose the group of words that has a silent K from the four options.
Knife, Know, Knock, Knee, Knot
Handkerchief, Work, Crack, Park, Sky
Kick, Kid, Kiss, Kill, King
Key, Kangaroo, Kind, Kettle, Kilogram
Generally, the letter K is silent when it is used before the letter N
Author:  V T Narendra

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