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.

59 thoughts on “Silent Letters: When NOT to pronounce B, D, and L in English

  1. if we do not pronounce these letter then why do we have to include them in spelling of the word.Any reasons or explanation for that

  2. Your method of teaching is very good I'm clearly understand what are you talking about… 👌👌👌
    Even though I'm not a native speaker. You're doing a good job… ❤️❤️❤️

  3. I can't see the words you write on the bottom of the board i.e below comb, thumb and bomb..

  4. Just thought of the word COLD. Pronounciation is as you say it. Just wonder if the rule still applies for words with O L. Also just thought of Colt

  5. Thank you very much Emma, that's very helpful, but I''ld like to know if i am the only one confused with the silent D before G.
    I always felt you naturally pronounce a 'D' in every word with "GE".
    Even in the word "Page" you pronounce a 'D', check the English and French pronouncation on Google Translate, i think you will understand what i mean.

  6. There are some silent letters l always pronounce in certain words like should, could, would and many more now l know better thanks.

  7. Sincerely speaking it's just like a nightmare learning which words are silent in some words. In some way looks like there are lots, tons of this ones. Great video, so practical.

  8. you are doing a very great job, i'm very proud, keep on teaching us as you are doing, it's very helpful,thank you very much, i would like to thank you in person.

  9. Thank u so much its so useful for both English speaker and non_ English speaker for me even i am not that bad but this lessons just surprised me

  10. I am so very happy to teaching me english pronunciations and grammer rules, realy I hav'nt seen in my life teacher like you. Emma my teacher again thanks you thank you.

  11. Hey Emma
    I am so excited about the terrific job you are doing.
    I am learning a lot from you,Emma
    You mean a lot to me
    Thanks a lot,.

  12. Good morning teacher. You this lecture on silent sounds of particular letters, b ,d,l. Thank you so much for that. May I ask you any personal difficulty in understanding English grammar please ? I shall be very thankful to you.

  13. you're a good teacher, something is wrong , it's not pronounce "b" after "t" it's before not after am I right? thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *