Sounds of P
The sound of P is a sudden breath (a plosive) made by closing and opening the lips.
PH is a digraph
The Greeks invented the letter phi to represent a sound not present in the Phoenician language. It was written as ph when the Romans adopted it into their alphabet. Phi was originally pronounced with an extra breath, as in uphill or loophole, but eventually was changed to an f sound in Latin and Greek. French also adopted the f sound for ph. English was influenced by these other languages, whereas some other European languages have not adopted ph; they just use f. English words with ph are often of Greek or maybe Latin origin.
The letter P is silent in words that start with pne— or psy—.
Exceptional silent Ps
- Look at the P words in the lists. Are they nouns or verbs? Could you use one as an adjective?
- Can you make a compound word using one of these words? Use that word in a sentence.
- Look for a word containing ph. Is it a compound word or does it contain the ph digraph?
- Define the words containing a silent P.
Special reading assignment
- The philosophy of the first Pharaohs formed a phantom phalanx.
- Pretty parrots’ performances pleased partying people, poolside.
- Please note: poison ivy does grow in cities in North America. Poison ivy is extremely variable in its height, size, and growth pattern. Learn to know the pattern of its leaves and stay away. Every new contact with this plant increases your susceptibility.
Note: This blog post is an excerpt from a book, “English Manual: Letter by Letter,” to be published in the summer of 2015.