Three Easy Rules for Pronouncing GH Words




There are so many English words spelled with gh. There's this tricky trio:

though -- pronounced "tho" /θoʊ/

through -- pronounced "throo" /θru/

thorough -- pronounced "ther-o" /θɚroʊ/


And many more:

enough

night

rough

ghost

eight

cough

sigh

bough

etc.


And many of my students don't know how to pronounce these words! Here's a funny video showing how confusing they are:


(If this link is broken, you can find this video by searching for "Lucy and Ricky English pronunciation ough" on www.YouTube.com)


So here are 3 rules for pronouncing GH:


1. If GH is at the beginning of a word or a syllable, it sounds like G:


ghost

ghetto

Ghana

aghast (a-ghast)

afghan (af-ghan)

yoghurt (yo-ghurt)

spaghetti (spa-ghe-tti)

Afghanistan (af-ghan-i-stan)


2. If GH is one of these 5 common words, it sounds like F:


rough

tough

enough

cough

laugh


(There's also slough, trough, and roughy, but they are not common words.) If you just remember these 5, then you will be ready to use Rule 3:


3. If it doesn't follow rule 1 or 2, then the GH is silent.


All the other words in English have a silent GH, like:


thought

taught

fight

sight

straight

daughter

dough

weigh

high



I went through all the GH words and put them into a handy chart for you. These are organized by the sound:


GH PATTERNS


Hope this helps!

Keep on learning English!

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