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The Gnarly Silent “G”

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The “g” is silent in some words. We’ll be going over these words and an important exception to keep in mind.

Silent G Words | G Silent Words
Can you think of any words that have a silent “g”?
Quick Summary on the Silent “G”
  • Words like ring and long have a “g” and “n” digraph that form the phoneme /ŋ/.
  • However, there are several cases where a “g” before an “n” is silent: benign, design, foreign, and vignette, to name a few.

What Are Silent Letters?

There’s nothing quite as infuriating about the English language as silent letters. These are letters that are used to spell a word, but aren’t explicitly pronounced when said aloud. Every letter in the English alphabet is a silent letter in at least one word. This post will focus on the silent “g.”

Silent G Words | Words with a Silent G
There are a handful of words that contain a silent “g.”

The Silent “G”

There are some letters that contain a “ng” in which the “g” is not technically silent (e.g., ring and strong). However, in many cases where a “g” is silent, there’s an “n” or an “m” after it (e.g., bologna, reign, phlegm). We’re going to give you a list of words that contain a silent “g,” but before we do, we have to note something important: A silent “g” can stop being silent if the suffixes “–ant,” “–atory,” or “–ation” are added to it.

design designation

/dɪˈzaɪn/ → /ˌdezɪɡˈneɪʃn/

malign  → malignant

/məˈlaɪn/ → /məˈlɪɡnənt/

sign  → signatory

/saɪn/ → /ˈsɪɡnətɔːri/

The consonant digraph “-gh” produces a few sounds— /g/, /f/, or it can be silent. For example:

dough
though
weigh
bright
thigh

Words With a Silent “G”

Below you’ll find a list of thirty words that have a silent “g.”

  • align
  • arraign
  • assign
  • benign
  • bought
  • campaign
  • caught
  • champagne
  • cosign
  • design
  • diaphragm
  • foreign
  • gnarl
  • gnash
  • gnat
  • gnaw
  • gnome
  • high
  • lasagna
  • night
  • ought
  • paradigm
  • phlegm
  • poignant
  • reign
  • resign
  • sight
  • sovereign
  • thigh
  • vignette

Don’t Let Silent Letters Ruin Your Writing

Silent letters can make writing difficult whether you’re a native speaker or an English language learner. To avoid making mistakes, you should assign LanguageTool as your writing assistant. This intelligent text editor can detect and correct several errors, whether spelling or grammar, and provide synonyms that can enhance your writing.


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