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

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All English Tenses

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All Tenses

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.


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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