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The Complete List of
English Spelling Rules

Lesson 4: Silent H


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

This lesson talks about a letter that is often, but not always, silent: the letter h.

the letter h

Download a free worksheet + answer key.

The letter h is not always silent, but we will study some cases when it is not pronounced.

There is not a 100% certain rule about when you must pronounce the letter h, so be sure to check the pronunciation of new words in a dictionary if you are not sure.

Also, it is a good idea to keep a list of words with silent letters to help you remember. This article will cover the most common words with a silent h.

For example, the h is sometimes silent at the beginning of words.

an hourglass

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If you want to know how long something takes, you can use an hourglass. The sand moves from the top to the bottom during a certain amount of time, for example, one hour.

The h is silent at the beginning of the word hour.

Here are some more examples of words with a silent h at the beginning:
  • honor
  • honest
  • heir
You can also find a silent h after the letter c in some very common English words.

a car with mechanical problems

For example, if your car is not working, you must take it to the mechanic.

In this word, the h is silent. We only pronounce the sound of the letter c.

Remember that the h is only sometimes silent after the letter c. Here are some more examples of words with a silent h after the letter c to add to your list:
  • chorus
  • chemistry
  • technology
  • echo
  • stomach
  • school

The h is also often silent after the letter w. However, this will depend a bit on the accent of the person who is speaking.

a coach with a whistle

For example, the coach uses his whistle to get the players' attention.

This silent h is common in question words and a few other common words in English:
  • why
  • what
  • when
  • where
  • which
  • whisper
  • white
  • wheel
  • while

Finally, the h is also sometimes silent after the letter g, the letter r, or the ex- combination.

a drum

For example, drums are very important because they maintain the rhythm of the music.

Here are some common words with a silent h after the letter g or the letter r:
  • ghost
  • rhyme
  • rhinoceros
  • exhibit
  • exhausted

You will see some more examples as you continue to study English, but these are the most common words you will find with a silent h.

Look at our worksheet on the silent h for practice and review.

Review

So, let's review what we have learned about the silent h in English:
  1. The h is only sometimes silent.
  2. This happens often after the letter w at the beginning of a word.
  3. It also sometimes happens after the letters c, g, r, or ex-.

Download a free worksheet



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