Silent Letters: When NOT to pronounce B, D, and L in English


Hi, there. My name is Emma, and in today's video, I am going to teach you about silent sounds.

So I'm going to teach you about "b", "d", and "l" in words where we don't pronounce

them. So, this is a pronunciation video, as well as a spelling video. Okay? So, if you

have trouble with pronunciation and spelling, this video is for you.

So, I'm going to first explain... Actually, let's first look at a couple words. I have

the word, here: "climb", "Wednesday", and "walk". These words have something that's

the same in all of them. Okay? They have multiple things that's the same in all of them, but

I want you to listen for the pronunciation. "Climb". Is there something in here we don't

pronounce? "Climb". If you said: "'b'. We do not pronounce the 'b'", you are correct.

What about "Wednesday"? "Wednesday". Am I pronouncing the "d" in this? "Wednesday".

No. I do not pronounce the "d". Okay? And what about "walk"? "Walk". Is there something

I'm not pronouncing in this word? "Walk". Do I pronounce every letter? No. "Walk". Okay,

so the "l"... If you said: "The 'l'", I'm not pronouncing the "l", you're correct. So,

in this video we're going to look at a bunch of words, and we're going to learn some rules

with their pronunciation when we don't pronounce these sounds or these letters. Okay?

So let's get started with words like "climb", the silent "b". Okay? So, silent "b" means

sometimes in a word we do not pronounce a "b". When is this true? Well, the first rule

with the silent "b" is we don't pronounce "b" when there's an "m" before it. Okay? So

you notice "b"... "mb". If you see an "m" and a "b" right after it, the "b" becomes

silent. So, we don't ever say: "Clim-b", no, no, no. We say: "Clime". For spelling, we

have the "b", but for pronunciation, we don't.

So, let's look at some other words. "Dumb". Okay? Do you hear a "b" sound in there? "Dumb".

No. So, again, you'll notice there's an "m" and a "b", we see the "m", so we know no pronunciation

of the "b" sound. For those of you who don't know the word "dumb", it means the same thing

as stupid. You know, "That man is very dumb", "That man is very stupid", they have the same

meaning. Okay, we have another word, here: "comb". Okay? So, "comb" is like you comb

your hair in the morning. Do you hear the "b" sound? "Comb". No, there's no "b" sound,

because again, we have this "m", so that means no "b" pronunciation. Okay.

You see this? This is a "thumb". We have our fingers and our thumb. Now, what do you notice

in the spelling of this? You're going to notice a pattern, here. We have "m", so do we pronounce

the "b"? No, we do not pronounce the "b". So, we don't say: "Thum-b". No. We say: "Thum".

Okay, "bomb". If you think about a bomb, an explosion. Right? "Bomb". Again, same rule,

if you have an "m", you do not pronounce the "b". So we don't say: "Bom-b", no. We say:

"Bom", and we get rid of this. Okay, the last word we'll look at for "mb" pronunciation:

"limb". So, your limbs are your arms and your legs. Okay? So, arms and legs are the same

thing as your limbs. Now, do we pronounce the "b", here? If you said: "No", you are

correct, because as you can see, there's an "m", so we don't pronounce the "b".

Okay, so there's another rule when it comes to "b" pronunciation. Okay. I want you to

now look over here. "b" and "t". This word: "debt". Do you hear the "b" in the pronunciation?

"Debt". You shouldn't hear the "b". I did not pronounce the "b", because when you have

"b" and right after "t", usually you don't pronounce the "b". There are always exceptions

to this rule, but in general, if you see "b" and "t", usually you do not pronounce the

"b". So, "debt". I've heard many students say: "De-bt", and they get really tongue twisted.

We don't... Don't worry about that, because you don't have to pronounce the "b".

Okay, let's look at some of our other words. "Doubt". Again, if you like the band No Doubt,

okay, with Gwen Stefani, her old band, you don't have to worry because you don't pronounce

the "b", it's just: "Dout". This word: "subtle" is a word many native speakers make mistakes

with, because native speakers actually see the "b" and they really want to say it, but

it's incorrect. We don't say: "Sub-tle". No. You don't need to worry about the "b" again

because right after it is a "t", so we can get rid of this. "Sutle", "sutle", okay? So,

now let's look at silent d's and when we don't pronounce d's in words.

Okay, so the next sound we're going to look at is when we don't pronounce "d". Okay? So,

our first rule about silent "d" is: "D" is not pronounced in... When you see spelled "g"

and "d" together. Okay? So, for example, there's a job, "judge", like Judge Judy. It's similar

to a lawyer, not exactly. But if you know the word "judge", we don't say: "Jud-ge",

okay? We don't pronounce the "d". So, just cross that off: "juge". A lot of these words

you might not know. That's okay if you don't know these words. Part of this is just actually

learning the rule, so when you do learn these words in the future or you learn other words,

you'll know how to pronounce them.

"Hedge". Okay? A hedge is similar to a bush or, you know, it's not exactly a tree, but

it's a type of plant. "Hedge", again, you say "d" and "g" together,

we don't pronounce the "d".

"Pledge". Okay? "Pledge", again... All of these, actually, kind of rhyme. You

see the "d" and the "g" together, we don't pronounce the "d". "Grudge". "Grudge", same

rule, "d" and "g" together. "Gruge". "Dodge". Okay? "d" and "g" are together, so we get

rid of... "Doge". So, again, if you see "d" and "g", don't pronounce the "d".

The other time "d" is not pronounced, there are certain words where we don't pronounce

the "d". I don't know the exact reason why. This probably has to do with the history of

the language. So, I've given some common words where we just don't pronounce the "d". The

first one is: "Wednesday". Okay? For days of the week, we don't say: "Wed-nes-day".

We say: "Wensday". So it's actually two syllable... Syllables. "Wens-day". "Wensday". So, actually

this "e" you can even take out. "Wensday". Okay? Also, if you like to eat sandwiches,

you don't need to say: "Sand-wich", okay? We say: "Sanwich". So the "d" is silent. "Sanwich".

And finally, sometimes you want to talk about, you know, men who are handsome. And by the

way, with this word "handsome", it kind of means beautiful or pretty, but it's for...

Usually for men. We don't usually talk about handsome women. That has a bit of a different

meaning. So, when we talk about men who are good looking, we use the word "handsome".

I know you see the word, here, "hand", but we don't say: "Hand-some". We say: "Hansome",

so it's as if this "d" isn't there. All right, so that's... So we've talked about silent

b's and silent d's, now let's look at silent l's.

So, "l" is silent in words like: "calm" and "talk". Okay? So, what's the rule for this?

When do we not pronounce "l"? Well, we don't pronounce "l" after "a", "o", or "u". So,

after these vowels, we usually don't pronounce "l", although there always are exceptions.

Okay? So if you come across a word where you do pronounce it, this is the general rule,

and there are exceptions. So, "calm". Okay? This is similar to relax. "c-a-l-m", we see

the "a" here, so as a result: "com". We don't say: "Ca-lm". No. "Com". All right. A lot

of students, this is a very important word: "talk". Okay? A lot of students want to say:

"Ta-lk". "I ta-lked to my friend." We don't pronounce the "l", so we say: "Tak". Another

very important word, okay, we have the "a", so this means this "l" is silent: "Wak".

I know a lot of students have trouble with the pronunciation of "l", so this is really nice

for you because these words you don't have to worry about pronouncing "l" at all. "Half".

So, again, "half", no "l" because we have the "a" here. Okay.

Now, these are our modals: "would", "should", "could". "Would", "should", "could". We have

"o" and "u", so afterwards, you don't need to worry about this "l"; it's silent. So,

we say: "Woud", "shoud", "coud". Okay? All right. This word, a lot of people mispronounce.

It's a type of fish that people like to eat: "salmon". A lot of students want to say: "Sal-mon".

"I like sal-mon." Don't worry about the "l", it's silent. "Samon".

Our next word: "folk", it means people. If you ever watch President Obama giving a speech,

he always used the word "folks", okay? He always says, you know... He's always talking...

Instead of the word "people", he uses the word "folk" which is a little bit more informal.

So, with the word "folk", there is no "l" pronunciation. "Fok". "Chalk", same thing.

Again, we have the "a" here, which means no "l". "Chak". And I've already explained "could".

The last word where... And there's many, these are just some examples of some common words.

"Calf". Okay? So, a "calf" is a baby cow. For this word, "calf", you do not need to

pronounce the "l"; it is silent. All right.

So, there are many silent sounds in English which you don't have to pronounce. You might

see them in the spelling, but just because you see them written does not mean you have to pronounce it.

So, what I'd like you to do is come visit our website at,

and there you can practice all of these by taking our quiz.

There's also other videos

on pronunciation, so I highly recommend you visit our website. Until next time, take care.