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Tip: see my guide to the
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Most usual Pronunciation Errors in English. It will certainly teach you about commonly mispronounced words, pro­nunci­ation patterns, and the basics the English phonology.

You are watching: Words that start with a silent h

First, let me note that some world use “an” together the unknown article form before “historic”, “horrific”, “hotel” and also a pair more words beginning with an “H”, so they speak “an istoric” fairly than “a historic”. However, virtually all speakers execute pronounce the “H” in ~ the beginning when words is not came before by the indefinite article (people execute not say, because that example, “Istory is an interesting subject.“)

Since this words execute not begin with a vowel, the preeminence prescribing the “an” form does not apply to them. In the past, both “an hotel” and “a hotel” were commonly used due to the fact that English indigenous of French origin start with an “H” (such together “hotel”) provided to be pronounced without it (so “hotel” would certainly be pronounced just “otel”). Nonetheless, current consumption inclines towards using “a”, no “an”, and always pronouncing the “H”. Speak “an istoric” instead of “a historic” is regarded as uneducated by some (but still fairly widespread), for this reason you may want to constantly pronounce her Hs simply to it is in on the for sure side.

Nevertheless, pronunciation of words prefer “historic” is not what I want to write about in this article. There are various other Hs that room truly quiet (not express at every in any form of the word). The complying with list is meant mostly for English learners, therefore it also contains notes around other typical pronunciation mistakes do by learners:


hour /ˈaʊə/ (aau-ə) UK, /ˈaʊɚ/ (aau-rr) us (both the very same as “our”); the “h” in ~ the start is silent, just like it must be in the surname of the letter H /eɪtʃ/ (eytch). Some aboriginal speakers began to express H as “heytch” lately, but such together is concerned as not correct by many.
honour /ˈɒnər/ (on-ə) UK, honor /ˈɑːnɚ/ (aan-r) US; some learners also mispronounce this word together if it had actually /ʌ/ in ~ the start (as in “onion” /ˈʌnjən/).
honest /ˈɒnɪst/ (on-ist) UK, /ˈɑːnɪst/ (aan-ist) US; “hon” is pronounced specifically the very same as in the previous word.
Hannah /ˈhɑnə/ (haa-nə) UK, /ˈhænə/ (-nə) US; ~ above the other hand, that is the last “h” that is quiet in this name, no the an initial one. The exact same is true for all words of Hebrew origin finishing with “ah”, e.g. Bar Mitzvah.
heir /ɛə/ UK, /ɛr/ US; a human being who inherits other from who else. It originates from Old French, so the “H” stays silent; the sounds precisely the very same as “air” and “ere” (meaning “before long”).
exhausted /ɪɡˈzɔːstɪd/ (ig-zaw-stid); an alert also that “x” in ~ the beginning is pronounced together “gz”, no as “ks”.
Thai /taɪ/; “th” in English is typically pronounced together /θ/ (as in “think”) or /ð/ (as in “the”), but in “Thai”, is is pronounced simply as “t”. The same applies to Thailand too, the course.
vehicle /ˈviːəkl/ (vee-ə-kl); part speakers that American English express the “h”, yet the vast bulk keep the “h” silent and consider the pronunciation with an “h” unnatural.
ghost /ɡəʊst/ (gəust) UK, /ɡoʊst/ (gohst) US; to finish our discussion about the quiet “H”, notification that it is also silent in “ghost”. This is in fact the instance with every words start with “gh”, such as ghetto /ˈgɛtəʊ/ (ge-təu) UK, /ˈgɛtoʊ/ (ge-toh) US, ghastly /ˈɡɑːstli/ (gaast-lee) UK, /ˈɡæstli/ (gæst-lee) US, and also ghee /ɡiː/ (g-ee).

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Note: words “herb” and also words derived from that (such as “herbal”) room usually pronounced with an H at the start in British and also Australian English, while it usually stays silent in American and Canadian English.


This post was based on my overview to English joint mistakes, which describes many comparable topics. Why nothing you check it out?