The Letter H in British 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

Main Sound

The letter 'h' has two sounds.

Sound 1: /h/

The letter 'h' sounds /h/:

hen /hen/

helicopter /ˈhelɪkɒptə(r)/

horse /hɔːs/

Sound 2: /∅/

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

honest /ˈɑːnɪst/

honor /ˈɒnə(r)/

heirloom /ˈeəluːm/

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 /ˈjɒɡət/

dinghy /ˈdɪŋɡi/

This word is also pronounced /ˈdɪŋi/.

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

through /θruː/

neighbor /ˈneɪbə(r)/

night /naɪt/

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

rhino /ˈraɪnəʊ/

rhyme /raɪm/

rhubarb /ˈruːbɑːb/

The Letter H: Multigraphs

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

xh

'xh' sounds /gz/:

exhort /ɪɡˈzɔːt/

exhibit /ɪɡˈzɪbɪt/

exhaustive /ɪɡˈzɔːstɪv/

Tip

'hi' in the word 'vehicle' sounds /iːə/:

vehicle /ˈviːəkl/

ch

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

torch /tɔːtʃ/

church /tʃɜːtʃ/

chicken /ˈtʃɪkɪn/

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

machine /məˈʃiːn/

chicane /ʃɪˈkeɪn/

moustache /ˈmʌstæʃ/

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

choreography /ˌkɒriˈɒɡrəfi/

choir /ˈkwaɪə(r)/

choli /'kɔːli/

ph

'ph' sounds /f/:

phone /fəʊn/

dolphin /ˈdɒlfɪn/

graph /ɡrɑːf/

sh

'sh' sounds /ʃ/:

ship /ʃɪp/

shark /ʃɑːk/

fish /fɪʃ/

th

'th' sounds /θ/:

mouth /maʊθ/

teeth /tiːθ/

thorn /θɔːn/

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

smoothie /ˈsmuːði/

then /ðen/

brother /ˈbrʌðə(r)/

'th' also sounds /t/:

thyme /taɪm/

Thomas /ˈtɒməs/

Thames /ˈtemz/

wh

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

wheel /wiːl/

whisker /ˈwɪskə(r)/

white /waɪt/

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

who /huː/

whole /həʊl/

whom /huːm/

gh

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

laugh /lɑːf/

cough /kɔːf/

roughage /ˈrʌfɪdʒ/

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

drought /draʊt/

doughnut /ˈdəʊnʌt/

thought /θɔːt/

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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