The Silent H

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Some of my students have trouble with words that have a silent letter ‘H’. While words like ghost and ghoul tend not to give problems when the letter appears at the beginning (or the beginning of a syllable) students might pronounce the ‘H’ as they do with other words. It should be noted that as the words beginning with ‘H’ sound like a vowel, the article ‘an’ should be used with them. This is a particular problem with native French speakers learning English.

Hour – When talking about time, this word is used and is the same whether talking about one or many. It should be pronounced the same as ‘our’

“I’ll be there in two hours.”

Honour (US – Honor) – Whether you are talking about the virtue or the title of the town judge, honour is pronounced ‘onour’

“He was an honourable man”

Honest – If you tell the truth (and I hope you do!) then you are honest. An honourable person is often honest. This is pronounced ‘onest’

“Are you being honest with me?”

Heir – If you are set to inherit a huge estate, you are an heir. This word is pronounced the same as the word ‘air’.

“Prince Charles is the heir to the throne.”

Vehicle – This one is commonly mispronounced but the ‘H’ is silent. ‘Vee-icul’

“There were lots of vehicles on the motorway this morning.”

Let me know in the comments if you can think of any more.

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  1. knifesedge avatar

    Thanks! If there’s anything you’d like to see more information on, let me know!