English is a difficult language because spelling doesn't always act as a guide for pronunciation, especially when there is a letter in a word that is not pronounced at all! We call these "silent letters".
In this lesson, we are going to focus on how to pronounce some words that many English learners pronounce incorrectly. This incorrect pronunciation happens because they say every letter in the word when there is actually a silent letter that is not pronounced at all.
Some of the words in this lesson are especially difficult because they not only have a silent letter, but also have a letter that is pronounced differently than it normally is, such as when we pronounce "c" like an "s" (ex. accent), "s" like "z" (ex. "Tuesday") or when we pronounce a "g" like "j" (ex. "age").
However, the main point of this lesson is to stop pronouncing the silent letters in these 25 words. The words below all contain a silent letter, which means a letter that we don't say at all. Can you guess which letter it is? (Note: in the words "clothes", "Wednesday", "knowledge", and "psychologist", there are two letters that are not pronounced).
Find out if you're correct. The silent letter is in (brackets) and the real pronunciation is in "quotation marks":
Island (s) = "eye-land"
Debt (b) = "det"
Clothes (th) = "close", like "close the door"
Wednesday (d, second e) = "wenz-day"
Receipt (p) = "ri-seat"
Thumb (b) = "thum"
Would/Could/Should (l) = "wood" like the material, and "cood" and "shood" sound the same
Salmon (l) = "sa-min"
Knowledge (k) = "naw=lij"
Muscle (c) = "muss-ul"
Scissors (c) = siz-urz
Castle (t) = "cass-ul"
Honest (h) = "aw-nest"
Often (t) = "off-in"
Answer (w) = "an-sir"
Foreign (g) = "for-in"
Character (h) = "care-ik-ter"
Stomach (h) = "stum-ik"
Calm (l) = "caum"
Autumn (n) = "aw-tum"
Cupboard (p) = "cub-urd"
Raspberry (p) = "raz-berry"
Psychologist (p, h) = "sye-call-o-jist"
Practice: to practice this pronunciation, go to the first list of words in this lesson again and identify any of the silent letters that you missed or got wrong the first time. Try to say each word correctly and use the second list above to check if you're correct.