As someone who speaks English as a non-native language, one thing that often perplexes me is determining when to disregard silent letters in pronunciation. Although it doesn't completely hinder me, it does cause a momentary pause of uncertainty that feels like 200 milliseconds.

Consider the word "knight" as an example. If beginners could find it represented as


It can be 'Not Really Like That' in the example, It was for my question to be understood properly

in a dictionary or resource, it would significantly enhance their confidence in pronouncing words. Where can I locate such a dictionary or resource?

  • I don't think native speakers have such trouble, I am talking about non-Native speakers now
    – http8086
    Commented Oct 9, 2023 at 6:04
  • 1
    Native speakers can have problems, although they are probably different. One reading [word-recognition] test I had at school had children mispronouncing picturesque as "picture-skew" because they didn't know the word. But certainly native speakers quickly learn that an initial kn- is always silent in English and gh is usually silent (with some exceptions like cough).
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Commented Oct 9, 2023 at 6:53
  • 2
    The way you represent it would suggest 'nit', which isn't the same thing at all! Commented Oct 9, 2023 at 7:39
  • "gh" isn't really silent here; "ight" indicates a long vowel pronounced /i:t/. There's a similar thing with final "e" in words like "bite" - it may seem silent but without it you have "bit". (You need to find a dictionary you like and learn how it indicates pronunciations; it shouldn't take too long and once you've done that you'll be far better off.)
    – Stuart F
    Commented Oct 9, 2023 at 8:29
  • Resources like ... words that aren't spelled like they sound and mispronounced words are worth looking at for starters. They can indicate some unexpected patterns ... though some words are idiosyncratic. Commented Oct 9, 2023 at 12:01
  • Most English words are not pronounced as they are spelled, especially if they contain vowels. That's why you have to learn the spelling and the pronunciation of each word independently, like the gender and plural for German nouns. Commented Oct 9, 2023 at 16:54
  • [k]ni[gh]t would be pronounced the same as [k]nit or nit. So would ni[gh]t. If you want to know the pronunciation, look at the pronunciation in the dictionary; that's what it's there for. Spelling is useless. Commented Oct 9, 2023 at 23:02

1 Answer 1


It's not just silent letters that can prove challenging to readers, native and non, almost every word in the English language has odd phonological features.

The word silent can be mispronounced as "seeLENT" when instead it is spoken SAIlent. Look the word up in any online dictionary, and it will transcribe the pronunciation as /ˈsʌɪlənt/, the stress is marked with an apostrophe.

The letter E in prove is silent, but the vowel O is long and sounds like proov (/pruːv/).

The word reader is pronounced slightly differently by British and American speakers. British speakers will pronounce the second "r" softly, the word will sound like "REEduh" (/ˈriː.dər/) while many Americans are rhotic speakers, so the second letter R will usually be audible and thus pronounced as REEdr (/ˈriː.dɚ/)

The letter L in almost is omitted by some native speakers, especially in fast speech; pronouncing it as AWmowst. The letter A in almost will often be pronounced "or", especially by many British speakers (/ˈɔːl.məʊst/), while American speakers might tag on an "r" sound (ar) i.e. /ˈɑːl.moʊst/. Then again some American and British regional speakers will pronounce the L more markedly; AAL and ALL respectively.

The word knight is not that difficult a challenge to pronounce. Consider,


The combination -ight is very common in the English language, one could argue that the letters GH are silent but they are necessary to make the I sound long. Compare the short "i" to its long variant.

  • hit and height (the "e" is definitely silent)
  • fit and fight
  • lit and light
  • mitt and might
  • nit and night
  • wit and wight

Similarly, the letter K is silent when it is followed by N such as know, knew, kneel, knife, knock etc.

Maybe there is a book which explicitly notes all the silent letters in every word in alphabetical order, but I'm pretty certain there isn't. The humble paper dictionary does a fine job. Contrastedly, (it exists, I just checked), the online versions are much quicker and the vast majority of reputable online dictionaries will include audio clips.

P.S Although the Original Poster asks for resources, when I wrote this answer the question was on the main site, which enjoys more views and would have been more visible to visitors: especially non-native speakers who struggle with reading and writing in English.

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