The Letter H in American English

In this lesson, we will learn about all the sounds of the letter H. It is the eighth letter of the English alphabet.I'm gonna tell you all there is about it.

"The Letter H" in the English Alphabet

H is the eighth letter in the English alphabet. It is also a consonant.

Consonants are sounds that are pronounced with restriction in the vocal tract.

Uppercase Form H
Lowercase h
Name aitch (pronounced /ˈeɪtʃ/)
Main Sound /h/

The Letter H: Sounds

The letter 'h' has two sounds.

Sound 1: /h/

The letter 'h' sounds /h/:

hen /hen/

helicopter /ˈhelɪkɑːptər/

horse /hɔːrs/

Sound 2: /∅/

1. 'h' sounds /∅/ when it precedes the letter 'o', so 'ho' sounds /ˈɑ/ in American English, in other words, 'h' is silent ∅:

honest /ˈɑːnɪst/

honor /ˈɒnər/

heirloom /ˈeərluːm/

2. 'ah' also sounds /ɑː/, ‘h’ is silent ∅:

ah /ɑː/

dahlia /ˈdeɪliə/

cheetah /ˈtʃiːtə/

3. 'gh' generally sounds /ɡ/, in other words, 'h' is silent /∅/:

ghost /ɡəʊst/

yoghurt /ˈjɒɡərt/

dinghy /ˈdɪŋɡi/

This word is also pronounced /ˈdɪŋi/.

4. 'gh' also sounds Ø (no sound, silent) as in:

through /θruː/

neighbor /ˈneɪbər/

night /naɪt/

5. 'h' in 'rh' sounds r. In other words, 'h' is silent Ø:

rhino /ˈraɪnəʊ/

rhyme /raɪm/

rhubarb /ˈruːbɑːrb/

The Letter H: Multigraphs

The letter 'h' can be positioned before or after other letters, mainly consonants.

xh

'xh' sounds /gz/:

exhort /ɪɡˈzɔːrt/

exhibit /ɪɡˈzɪbɪt/

exhaustive /ɪɡˈzɔːstɪv/

he

'he' sounds /ɜː/ or /hɜː/ in American English:

herb /ɜːrb/ /hɜːrb/

herbal /ˈɜːrbl/ /ˈhɜːrbl/

Tip

'hi' in the word vehicle sounds /hɪ/ or /ə/:

vehicle /ˈviːəkl/, /ˈviːhɪkl/

ch

'c' in combination with 'h' generally represents /tʃ/:

charity /ˈtʃærəti/

chicken /ˈtʃɪkɪn/

child /tʃaɪld/

It also has the /ʃ/ sound in French loanwords:

moustache /ˈmʌstæʃ/

chevron /ˈʃevrən/

chef /ʃef/

'c' combined with 'h' also sounds /k/:

choreography /ˌkɔːriˈɑːɡrəfi/

choir /ˈkwaɪər/

choli /'kɔːli/

gh

'gh' after 'u' also sounds /f/:

cough /kɔːf/

enough /ɪˈnʌf/

roughage /ˈrʌfɪdʒ/

'gh' also sound silent /Ø/ when they follow 'ou':

drought /draʊt/

doughnut /ˈdəʊnʌt/

thought /θɔːt/

ph

'ph' sounds /f/:

phone /fəʊn/

dolphin /ˈdɑːlfɪn/

graph /ɡræf/

sh

'sh' sounds /ʃ/:

ship

shark

fish

th

'th' sounds /θ/:

mouth /maʊθ/

teeth /tiːθ/

'th' can also sound /ð/ if it is followed by the letter 'e':

smoothie /ˈsmuːði/

they /ðeɪ/

then /ðen/

'th' also sounds /t/:

thyme /taɪm/

Thomas /ˈtɑːməs/

Thames /ˈtemz/

wh

'wh' sounds /w/, note that lips are rounded pronouncing this letter.

wheel /wiːl/

whisker /ˈwɪskər/

white /waɪt/

'wh' also sounds /h/, that means 'w' is silent /∅/:

who /huː/

whom /huːm/

whole /həʊl/

The Letter H: Uses

The letter 'h' can be:
The abbreviation of hydrogen
The abbreviation of an hour (in prescriptions)
The abbreviation of hours, like 70 h

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