What is up with GH?

Intro

When these two letters get together, they never sound like they’re supposed to.
What sound do you think they are supposed to make?

When they are in the middle of a word they don’t make a sound.
Like in these words: Might, light,frighten, taught, naughty, caught

Can you think of any other words where gh are silent?

When they are at the beginning of a word only the g makes a sound.
like in these words: ghost, ghoul, ghastly

Can you think of any other words where gh say “g”?

Sometimes when gh are at the end of a root word, they sound like “f”.
like in these words: laugh, rough, enough, cough, tough

But, they can also be silent too.

Can you think of any other words where gh say “f”?

Can you think of any words where gh are SILENT at the end?
ex. Although

Sample Problem

Use the following information to answer the question below.

laugh
light
alright
ghost
gherkin
flight
rough
taught
although
cough

Let’s practice the sounds.
What sound are gh making in each of the following words?

Solution

laugh- “f”
light- “silent”
alright- “silent”
ghost- “g”
gherkin- “g”
flight- “silent”
rough- “f”
taught- “silent”
although- “silent”
cough- “f”

There seems to be no rule about when gh are going to make different sounds. But there are patterns. It looks like their position in a word and the letters next to them signal them to make different sounds. For instance:
when you see igh together, they sound like “i”, so gh are silent. ex. Flight, right, tight
they you see augh together, they sound like “o” (which is what au say, autumn, August), so gh are silent. ex. caught, taught, naughty

Once you’ve been taught the patterns, and you’ve seen them enough times, then you will laugh because you know right away, what those naughty letters are up to.



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I am a student with Athabasca University, completing my bachelors of English. I have 3 years of tutoring experience and specialize with ESL tutoring. My expertise lies in student directed studies, I believe that when students are engaged, they are naturally motivated and motivation is the key to kno...
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  1. nora e. villarreal 12/23/2016, 11:34 am Reply

    There are so many words , however, you are right words like
    ghost and ghastly which make the hard g sound . Known as digraphs. Naughty g and gh . Difficult to teach.

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