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  • Sshh.

  • I'm the D in 'Wednesday'.

  • I'm the B in DEBT. I'm busy being silent.

  • Today we're going over silent letters in English and some of the rules for them, and the many exceptions

  • that these rules have.

  • Stick with us, you're going to learn a lot about correct English pronunciation.

  • What's up with all these silent letters?

  • Let's just go through the alphabet.

  • We'll start with A.

  • A is silent in the suffixally.

  • And it's tricky, because it looks like it should be a syllable, but it's 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.

  • It's three syllables.

  • So how to do you know by looking? Well, you don't.

  • 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 don't 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 that's not right, it's climb.

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

  • No. That's 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 don't think it actually is a stone, it's used a lot in jewelry.

  • It's also a word to describe this color.

  • It's 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 it's in a different syllable.

  • Ambivalent, ambassador, akimbo.

  • There's 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, you'll find lots of exceptions.

  • For example a compound word, where the first word ends in B and the next word begins with T, like 'bobtail'.

  • Bob, bob, bobtail. It's 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. It's silent in the state name Connecticut. This middle C is silent, we don't say it at all.

  • Connecticut. It can be silent after S, like in 'muscle', 'scissors', 'scent, ' 'fascinating', or 'scene'.

  • But it's not always silent like in 'scatter' or 'script'.

  • And sometimes it goes in a different direction and becomes an SH after S, like in 'conscience' or 'luscious'.

  • You know, let's stop and think about this for a second.

  • Everyrulewe've studied, there's an exception. So why study the rule?

  • What we're 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 didn't know that L in 'salmon' w as silent.

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

  • So what we're doing here is exposing you to these silent letters,

  • and also making sure you're aware that these rules are not absolute rules that can be applied in every situation.

  • Ok, let's get to D. We have Wednesday.

  • There's no rule here about why this D is silent, it just is in this word.

  • It's also silent in 'handsome'.

  • In the word 'sandwich', if you looked that up in the dictionary, you WOULD see the D sound.

  • But it's actually never pronounced that way. So Wednesday, Handsome: the dictionary says no D.

  • But 'Sandwich', the dictionary does say D but it hasn't 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 that's not our habit anymore.

  • The thing about the D between two consonants is it's really common in our habit to drop that D.

  • To make it silent, even if that's 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.

  • I've seen other teachers say the D is silent in a word like 'edge', 'bridge' or 'knowledge'.

  • Here's the thing. In the word 'edge' the 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 don't think I would say the D is silent in these words. The D is part of the J sound.

  • Ok, let's move on.

  • The letter E.

  • I'm going to go over a rule for this one, the ending E.

  • But first, take a look at this word.

  • Au-di-ble.

  • There's no vowel sound at the end of that word.

  • Where's the E sound?

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  • Okay, now, let's get back to that rule. Silent ending E.

  • Thisruleis taught quite a bit so you're probably already familiar with it.

  • Quite a bit. The word 'quite'.

  • I'm 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 with 'bit', if I added an E at the end there, the word would be 'bite'.

  • Again, T is the final sound. The extra E doesn't add an extra sound at the end,

  • but it does change the vowel to a “longervowel sound.

  • Bite, bit.

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

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

  • But note the word 'café', we do pronounce that ending E, even if it isn't 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 don't 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. Or 'pack', 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 you're 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 of 'fifth' with a silent F in the middle.

  • Fifth. That's 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 with 'GN'.

  • Gnome, gnat. Gnaw.

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

  • Also, 'GNE', like 'champagne', cologne.

  • You know, I did some looking, and I didn't see any exceptions to these rules.

  • Wouldn't 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 in 'choir' or 'chaos' or 'echo'.

  • When GH is at the beginning of a word, H is silent like in 'ghost' or 'ghetto'.

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

  • But this rule doesn't work in compound words where the sounds are in two separate syllables, like 'overheard'

  • or 'bearhug', or in the word 'perhaps'.

  • 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 you're seeing this video in it's first week, that video isn't ready yet,

  • it's coming out on Tuesday of next week, so be here to see it.

  • If that's the case, I cannot recommend highly enough getting to know the International Phonetic Alphabet.

  • Lots of dictionaries use it and it's 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 haven't 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.

Sshh.

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B1 silent sound audible letter rule amber

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

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    Summer posted on 2020/09/15
Video vocabulary