W - Wh

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This guide has a list of examples of this phenomenon.

In the speech of most native English nationals, the sounds used to pronounce these different spellings are indistinguishable. The Scots and Welsh, and many from outside the United Kingdom, make a clear distinction in sound. (In the International Phonetic Alphabet, the different sounds, as realised by careful speakers of English, of 'w' and 'wh' are represented by different signs, respectively IPA: /w/ and IPA: /ʍ/.) This precise pronunciation helps them to avoid several spelling mistakes common in England. English schoolchildren often have problems with pairs of words like where - were, which - witch, and wet - whet.

  • The sound that is nowadays written wh- was written more logically in Old English as hw-. This lasted until the thirteenth century, and later in some parts of the country. In Scotland, it was often represented by quh-.