In this lesson we're looking at the difficult -gh- letter pattern. I've included a video, a spelling test and pronunciation guide to really help you with these tricky words.

The video has all the pronunciation sounds below.

We use -gh- in very common words like: though, right, daughter, weigh, cough, brought, enough

And we use it in common letter patterns: -ough, -augh-, -eigh-, -igh-.

But why have we got these stupid looking words? And how do you remember how to pronounce them and spell them?

It's all to do with the history of gh. These are very old Anglo-Saxon words and we used to pronounce the 'gh' with a hard h like the Scottish loch, (check the video)

But then the French invaded and added a g to the h to reflect the 'hard' h sound.

We leave the gh in there to show the origins and history of the world.

-ough-has seven sounds.  Read this sentence: Have you thought this through thoroughly enough?

*Sometimes the 'gh' at the end is silent sometimes a f sound- no rules about this. Check out the video below

oo - "too"   through 
off - "coff"    cough trough
uff - "cuff"    enough, rough, tough
oh - "toe"    dough, though, although, 

ow - "how"  bough 
u - "uh"     borough, thorough 
or - "or"    bought, brought, fought, nought, ought, sought, wrought, thought...

Check out the though, through, thorough, thought video

-augh- normally sounds like "or",  "door/nor" - daughter "dort a", naughty, slaughter, taught, haughty

but laugh is pronounced with a long or short ‘a’-  "laff" or "larff"

-eigh- normally sounds like "ay", "say, day" - eight, neighbour, weigh, weight, sleigh but height rhymes with bite!!

-igh- sounds like i in "tie" - high, sigh, thigh, light, delight, sight, might, night, right, tight, flight

Let's do a spelling test.

spelling tests

There are nine sentences. I'll say them about four times, the first time quick to get the meaning then slowly.

Have you got a pen and paper ready? Remember if I go too quickly pause the player. 

happy woman


1. I bought a lovely pair of boots for my daughter.

2. He thought his flight was at eight at night.

3. Have you thought this through thoroughly enough?

4. My noisy neighbour/neighbor (AmE) keeps me awake all night and I've had enough.

5. In London, I live in the borough of Westminster and it's tough finding cheap accommodation there.

6. Joanne has taught me spelling for eight months now.

7. My children make me laugh most of the time but not when they're naughty.

8. I coughed all night long so I bought some cough medicine but my throat's still rough.

9. This is the last sentence and I want you to be thorough and check it carefully even though you may think it's right!

Check the words letter by letter and correct them. See if you can use memory tricks to remember these words. Or use the Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check method

You may be able to remember them in the sound groups:
borough / thorough
eight/weight/neighbour... Try different ways that suit you.

Hope this was useful, let me know


P.S. If you'd like to know The Reasons Why English Spelling is so Weird
and Wonderful Click here for more information about it