When "gh" pronounced as "f"

Hi !

How are you ?

when ‘gh’ pronounced as ‘f’ and why

for example : “cough” pronounced as ‘f’

but in " high" is silent

Different letters blend together to make a variety of phonemes (sounds) in English. Sometimes the same letters produce different sounds (for example the ‘ea’ sounds in ‘beach’ and in ‘bread’ are created using the same letters, but make different phoneme sounds). This is part of what makes English a complex language to learn, the sounds are quite complex. There is no hard and fast reasoning as to why in many cases. You just have to look at the surrounding letters and make the choice

A ‘gh’ combination is used in a number of phonemes:

The digraph (2 letter blend) sound ‘gh’

The trigraph (3 letter blend) phoneme sound “igh”

the quad (4 letter blend) phoneme sound ‘ough’

Hi Thegladiator,

Good question. This pair of letters ‘gh’ causes problems, I know. At the start of a word like ‘ghost’ and ghastly’ they are pronounced as a ‘g’ but never as a ‘g’ at the end of a word. Sometimes ‘gh’ is not pronounced at all in words like ‘high’ ‘through’ ‘although’ and so on. Sometimes it is pronounced as an ‘f’ in words like ‘laugh’ ‘rough’ ‘tough’ and so on. Few attempts have been made to simplify the spelling of words containing ‘gh’ except in American spelling as ‘plow’ (plough) and 'draft (draught). You ask why this is so and all I can say is that it depends on the history of the words in question, how they first came into the language.


Thank you for your explanation Mr.Beeesneees
and sorry for asking more and more…

Welcome Mr.Alan

Actually I always asking about the Secrets of English language

to learn more and more …

Thank you for your explaination and sorry for asking more …

You’re welcome, and you shouldn’t be apologetic about asking questions. Without an inquiring mind what would happen to learning?

I’ll Carve this advice in my heart …

Thank you Mr.Beeesneees …

I know that this is a couple of months old, but in my search for the answer to the same question, and others similar to it, I found the following useful:
Our present day language is a blend of Old English, Old Norse, Norman, Classical Latin and Greek. The Old English, Old Norse, and Norman languages have their roots in the even older Germanic dialect and came from the ages of Saxon, Anglo, and Jute invasions of England. Also, later, the Viking and Norman invasions. (Historical sore spot)…As these various languages blended to become a unique language, there was, as is often seen in language study, a “shift” when some things within the language were changed or dropped. So, the “gh” is one that did not always undergo a “shift” and therefore its pronunciation follows one dialectic rule within one word and another dialectic rule within another word. (German, or Latin usually) Therefore, the inconsistency often found throughout our language.