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

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

You know that English has silent letters, but how do you know when certain letters are silent? In this video, you’ll learn the rules for when NOT to pronounce the letters B, D, and L in English words. I’ll also show you lots of example words that you can practice pronouncing correctly. I’ve chosen the most common words with these silent letters, so that even if you don’t remember the rules, you’ll still know how to pronounce these common words correctly. This is also a great chance for you to improve your spelling.

After the lesson, take the quiz at You can also watch many other pronunciation lessons on our site!


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”.