Podcast intro:

Welcome to the InFluency Podcast. I’m Hadar, and this is episode number 270. And today we’re gonna talk about silent letters.

Hey everyone, it’s Hadar. Thank you, thank you so much for joining me for another episode. Today I’m going to talk about the relationship between spelling and pronunciation. Because you know I’ve already talked about the fact that what you see is not what you hear, and spelling of English does not correspond necessarily with the pronunciation of English.

There are patterns that we can follow, but I don’t like to teach those patterns because they are extremely inconsistent and hard to remember, unless you have the time to sit and analyze and to think about it. But there are a few things that we definitely need to discuss when it comes to spelling versus pronunciation, and that is silent letters.

Silent letters are letters, in particular consonant letters that are simply not pronounced. And, you know, there are the obvious ones like the K in ‘knife’, you know, you learn it first thing when you go to school. But there are the less common ones or obvious ones that could create potential confusion.

So this is why I created this episode for you, and I actually have a freebie for you, a PDF with audio so you can actually practice it on your own. So not just listening to this episode and trying to figure out how to put it into practice, but actually to have the tools to practice it, listen to it, repeat it, and then that is how you’re going to start making those changes if indeed you used to pronounce these words differently. So, make sure you go to the description to download the freebie and audio. And that’s it. I hope you enjoy this episode.

Video transcript:

Hey everyone, it’s Hadar. Thank you so much for joining me. Today we are going to talk about silent letters.

I wanna talk about silent letters that often cause mispronunciations. And here’s the thing, here’s why it’s so confusing. Because English pronunciation and spelling are not aligned, right? So a lot of times you expect to say what you see on the paper or on your computer screen, and it’s actually not the case.

And because a lot of you have started learning English through reading and writing, the representation of the written words is very, very dominant in your brain, and you’re thinking of the letters as sounds. So, I’m going to share with you those examples. And for you to be able to practice it, I don’t want you to just watch this video and be like, “Oh, I didn’t know that there is no B in ‘debt’.” I actually want you to put it into practice so you can start making changes, because changing your pronunciation is basically changing a habit. And to do that, you have to repeat something again and again and again. ‘You have to repeat something again and again and again’.

So, I created a PDF for you with the list of words and actually a few additional words and suggestions so that you can practice it after watching the video. But here’s the thing, if you see a word that you know you use differently, you pronounce it differently, or you feel like you’re not using it enough in your day-to-day speaking, I would recommend not just to look at it and say it once. I recommend to build pronunciation confidence. And for that you need to say it out loud 10, 20, 30 times and then always use it in context.

Let’s get started. The first letter that I wanna talk about is the letter P. So here’s a pattern that is pretty consistent. Whenever there is a PS at the beginning of a word, the P is not pronounced, so we don’t say ‘psychology’, we say ‘sychology’, you just don’t pronounce the P sound. (p)sychiatrist, (p)sychic. Can you hear it? ‘sychic’, not ‘psychic’.

Now, the P is also silent in the word ‘receipt’. The T is pronounced, by the way, it’s held. This is why you not… you’re not fully hearing it, but I’m not saying ‘recei’. I’m saying ‘receit’, there is a T, but there is no P – ‘receit’. And also in the word ‘coup’ there is no P, even though it’s in the spelling. ‘cou’. All right, good.

The next silent letter is the B. Now, here’s another pattern to follow: when there is MB, especially at the end of words, the B is not pronounced. So in words like limb, climb – no B, bomb – no B, crumb, plumber, comb – there is no B whatsoever. But we also don’t have a B sound in the words ‘debt’ – even though there is a B, it’s not deBt; ‘doubt’ – can you hear it? and ‘subtle’. De(b)t, dou(b)t, su(b)tle. And again, when you practice it, especially if you are used to saying these words with a B sound, say each word out loud at least 20 times until you build that new pronunciation habit.

The next silent letter I’m gonna talk about is the N. The N is silent in the words ‘hymn’, not hymN; ‘condemn’ – closing my lips, ending with an M; ‘autumn’, and ‘government’ – I do not pronounce the N here.

Now let’s talk about the T. There are a lot of words with a silent T. For example, ‘fasten’ – we don’t say fasTen, okay? It’s not a mistake if you pronounce the T, not a big deal, everyone would understand you. But just so you know, the T is generally not pronounced in this word. fas(t)en, sof(t)en, mois(t)en. It’s not moisTen – ‘moisen’.

And also in the words ‘ballet’, right, not balleT. In Hebrew, by the way, we say balleT, the T is pronounced, but in English – ‘balle’. So, if you have this word in your language and you do pronounce the T in your language, the T sound, so you are very likely to pronounce it in English as well. Which again, not a big deal, but just so you know, it is not pronounced, and we just put a long ‘ei’ as in ‘day’ at the end – ‘ballei’.

More words with silent T. Mortgage. We don’t say morTgage, right, ‘morgage’. Also the word ‘rapport’, you can also put a schwa at the beginning – r’ppor. It’s not rapporT – ‘rappor’. Then the word ‘apostle’, we do not pronounce the T there. Not aposTle – ‘aposle’. And also the word ‘buffet’ – in American English the T is not pronounced – ‘buffe(i)’. And also the word ‘depot’: home depot, office depot. ‘depo(t)’. It’s a high ‘ee’, and then long ‘ow’ is in ‘go’, no T – ‘dee-pow’.

The next silent letter we’re gonna discuss is an S. The S is silent in ‘debris’. Not debriS – ‘debri’. And also in the word ‘bourgeois’. Now by the way, in the PDF I’m going to write the definition for all of these words. So if you are not sure about some of the words, then the definition is going to be in the free PDF that I created for you, so download it.

So the L is not pronounced in words like ‘yolk’ – the yellow part inside the egg. ‘yo(w)k’, not yoLk, ‘yo(w)k’. The L is also not pronounced in ‘walk’, and ‘talk’ – when there is an LK in the end of words, that is a common spelling pattern where the L is not pronounced. The L is also not pronounced in the word ‘salmon’. Now, I have a funny video about that, that I’m going to link in the description below. Funny story that happened to my husband with the word ‘salmon’. So, we do not pronounce the L in English, it’s not saLmon. Not that it’s a big deal, everyone would still mostly understand you, but make sure it’s two syllables – seh-m’n – schwa at the end. ‘samon’.

The C is silent in the word ‘indict’, ‘indict’. Not indiCt, but ‘indit’. And I know that because it’s not a very common word, you don’t hear it a lot, when you come across it – it makes sense that you’d assume that the C is pronounced, but it’s not. ‘Indi(c)t’.

The G is not pronounced in many words that represent a vowel, like ‘thought’ and ‘taught’, but it’s also not pronounced in the word ‘phlegm’.

Now, I have a couple more words for you with silent letters. Actually, more than one silent letter. First word I wanna talk about is the word ‘yacht’. And the spelling has nothing to do with the pronunciation. We do not pronounce the CH, right? It’s not yaCHt, but ‘yaat’. Just like a Y Sound, AA as in ‘father’, and the T – ‘yaat’. And then also the word ‘corps’, the PS at the end – gone. ‘cor’, like ‘the marine corps’.

What other words with silent letters, that I have not mentioned in this video, do you know? Let me know in the comments below. Now, make sure you download the PDF. And remember, it’s not enough to just hear it once and just think about it, you gotta put it in your mouth. You gotta say it again and again and again so you change your pronunciation habits, build new habits, and get it into your system.

All right, thank you so much for watching. I hope you found this video helpful. Have a beautiful, beautiful rest of the day. And I’ll see you next week in the next video. Bye.