English KS2: Silent letter b

These types of words with silent letters are hard to spell because they cannot be heard when the word is spoken.

For these types of words, it is necessary to learn and remember the silent letters.

Silent b is introduced in the word ‘lamb’.

To help remember this silent letter, there is a story of how the word was originally spelt – lambaz – in old Germanic.

Over time the ‘baz’ at the end of the word was dropped from the pronunciation but the ‘b’ remained in the spelling of the word.

The word ‘kambaz’ is the old Germanic word for 'comb' and a similar thing happened to this word too.

The word 'bomb' was originally ‘bombus’, a Latin word that described a booming sound.

The ‘us’ has been dropped but the ‘b’ remained.

Another word that was used by the Anglo-Saxons was ‘climban’ – which has dropped the ‘an’ but kept the ‘b’.

Finally, two words from the Latin language, 'plumb' and 'doubt', are explained.

This short film is from the BBC series, Wonderful Words, a series of animated clips to support vocabulary knowledge.

Teacher Notes

This short film could be used in teaching about the silent letter b and to reinforce spellings containing silent letters.

Pupils could write a short story incorporating words with a silent b.

This could also be used as part of a history topic on the origin of words.

Curriculum Notes

This short film is relevant to teaching English at KS2 level in England and Northern Ireland and Second Level in Scotland.

More from Wonderful Words

Homophone sentence show
Silent letters
Suffixes - part 1 of 4
Suffixes - part 2 of 4
Suffixes - part 3 of 4
Suffixes - part 4 of 4