Author: British Council | Published on 1 November 2022


English has many words which contain silent letters

Words like ‘might’, ‘half’, ‘write’ and ‘know’ have all got silent letters. Sometimes learners pronounce these letters when they shouldn’t. But they also need to know when words contain these letters so that they can spell the words correctly.


Listen to the pronunciation of these words:

[play audio] 

Silent ‘gh’: might sight night fight flight light tight 

Silent ‘l’: should would could half walk talk chalk 

Silent ‘w’: wrong write sword

Silent ‘t’: listen whistle fasten mustn’t 

Silent ‘s’: island

Silent ‘k’: know knee knew knife 

Silent ‘h’: when where why honest hour school 

Silent ‘b’: lamb comb climb

Silent ‘u’: guest guide 

Silent ‘g’: sign foreign 

Silent ‘n’: autumn 

Silent ‘d’: Wednesday 

Silent ‘r’:  father teacher sister far car


Think of 10 words which contain silent letters that your learners should know. These words should contain a range of silent letters. 

Read the words aloud. Ask different learners to write them on the board. If they make mistakes, drill the words (say, point, repeat) and help them notice the sound and spelling. 

With more advanced learners, you could draw a cloud on the board and fill it with words with different silent letters. Then ask groups or pairs to group the words.

Silent l


Silent w


Silent t


Silent k


Silent h


Silent b



In pairs, learners choose and write six of the words in their notebook. They then create two or three sentences using their six words. E.g. We should go to school on Wednesday and listen to the teacher. 

They should then swap sentences with another pair. Pairs identify and underline all the words with silent letters. Then they swap again and check they are correct. 


Drill: A classroom technique used to practise new language. It involves the teacher modelling a word or a sentence and the learners repeating it.

Silent letters: Letters which are in the written form of the word but not pronounced in speech.

See also