Pronunciations 03 - The Letter C
The English language is so full of contradictions that, even when we look at something as simple and straightforward as pronunciation with the letter ‘C’, we are pleasantly surprised!
We have found in our past learning that many of the components of English are guided by conventions and it takes considerable practise to master all of them.
‘C’ is the third letter of the alphabet and it is a consonant. In pronunciation the letter is associated with two principal sounds, namely - the ‘K’ sound (as in the words CAT, CLEAR or ATTIC) and the ‘S’ sound (as in the words PIECE, FANCY or CITY).
Principally, the ‘S’ sound is used when the letter C is followed by E, I or Y. For instance, CELERY, CIPHER and INFANCY are all words which follow this rule.
The ‘K’ sound is used when the letter C is followed by A, O, U or a consonant. For instance, CAMERA, COZY, CUTE and ACROSS are all words which follow this rule. Also, the ‘K’ sound is used when the word ends with the letter C. Here, some examples are the words TUNIC and COMIC.
It is possible that in words that have more than one C, both sounds are used - CYCLE is pronounced as if it were spelt SYCUL.
Another example of both sounds being used is when two Cs come together, as in words such as ACCENT, which is pronounced - AKSENT.
C is also associated with the letters K, H and S in words such as BACK, MATCH and SCIENCE where the K, H and S sounds dominate.
The quiz that follows helps to acclimatise you with the use of the letter C in words.