The Complete List of
English Spelling Rules

Lesson 5: -mn and -mb Combinations
at the End of Words

In this series of lessons, you will learn useful spelling rules in English.

This lesson talks about two letter combinations with silent letters that often come at the end of words: -mn and -mb.

a lamb

Download a free worksheet + answer key.

In these combinations, the m is pronounced, but the n or the b are silent.

First, we will look at words that end in the combination -mb. In these words, the m is pronounced, but the b is silent.

A common example is the word lamb, or a baby sheep. There are several other common words with this pattern.

a boy taking cookies

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For example, John's mother knows he took the cookies because he has crumbs on his shirt! Crumbs are little pieces of bread or cookie.

In this word, the m is pronounced, but the b is silent.

a coach giving a thumbs up

If you want to show that you like something or that everything is okay, you can point your thumb up.

Here are some more examples of words with the same pattern:
  • bomb
  • climb
  • comb
  • dumb
  • limb
  • numb

One special exception is the word plumber. The -mb combination does not come at the end of this word, but the b is still silent.

You can also find a silent n after the letter m at the end of some common English words.

an autumn tree

For example, trees lose their leaves in autumn. This is the season between summer and winter.

In this word, the n is silent. We only pronounce the sound of the letter m at the end of the word.

children singing

Another example is the word hymn. This is a special kind of song that is usually religious.

Here are some more examples of words with the -mn combination at the end:
  • column
  • solemn
  • condemn

It is important to notice that some of the words in these lists are verbs. That means that we might add an -s in the simple present tense or -ed in the simple past tense.

When this happens, the -mb or -mn combination is not at the end of the word, but the pronunciation does not change. We only pronounce the m.

an old house

For example, when a house is very old and not safe, the police can condemn it. That means that no one is allowed to live there.

So, we can say that the police condemned this old house five years ago. It is not safe to go inside. Even when we change the verb form, the n is still silent.

Look at our worksheet on the -mn and -mb combinations at the end of words for practice and review.


So, let's review what we have learned about the silent n and b after an m at the end of words in English:
  1. The m is pronounced but the n or b are not.

  2. This usually happens at the end of a word, but if it is a verb, the pronunciation remains the same even if we change the verb form.

Download a free worksheet

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