Silent ‘h’ in Content Words


Listen to the following words, what do you notice about the ‘h”?

heir, honour, hour


/h/ is not pronounced in any of these words.

When is ‘h’ silent in content words?

  • Sometimes, we don’t pronounce the ‘h’ in content words, usually when words come from French.
  • Some words which come from French such as ‘hotel’, ‘humour” and ‘horrible’ are now pronounced with /h/ but they didn’t used to be.
  • When pronounced, the /h/ sound is a soft, voiceless glottal fricative that is like the sound you make when steaming up a mirror.

DRILL

Repeat the following:

hors d’oeuvres, honest, heirloom, hourly, honorary, haute couture

EXERCISE

Find the odd one out:

A. exhaust, horrible, hungry, unharmed
B. exhibition, honorable, hamster, haute cuisine
C. hardly, hazard, choral, handover
D. Honduras, honestly, however, hanger
E. vehemently, vehicle, exhilarating, hallelujah

A. exhaust, horrible, hungry, unharmed | (silent ‘h’)
B. exhibition, honorable, hamster, haute cuisine | (pronounced /h/)
C. hardly, hazard, choral, handover | (silent ‘h’)
D. Honduras, honestly, however, hanger | (silent ‘h’)
E. vehemently, vehicle, exhilarating, hallelujah | (silent ‘h’)
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