In this English pronunciation lesson, we will begin learning the pronunciation and spelling of the /k/ sound in English. This lesson is Part One of Four and will focus on words spelt with a letter ‘c’ that are pronounced as /k/.
The Many Spellings of /k/
English is not a phonetic language. This means that the way we spell words often doesn’t match the way we pronounce them. In English Jade, I teach you the spelling and pronunciation hacks to help you to make sense of the English language. Without these rules, you will inevitably make a lot of mistakes.
- To pronounce words correctly in English, you need to know IPA.
- An IPA transcription shows you the correct pronunciation of a word, whereas English spelling often doesn’t.
- To read words correctly in English, you also need to know the spelling patterns of words.
- Some of the symbols in the IPA are unique, which means they don’t have letters that represent them in the English alphabet, e.g. /ʃ/ is a unique sound/symbol.
- The letters in the English alphabet are not all represented by a symbol in the IPA.
The last point is particularly important when it comes to learning the /k/ sound. This is because there is no symbol in the shape of a letter ‘c’ in the IPA. When you see a letter ‘c’ in a word’s spelling, this often (but not always) represents a /k/ sound in the IPA:
The rules of pronouncing <c> as /k/
- Most words ending with <c> have the <-ic> suffix:
tragic traffic sceptic erotic clinic
- Some abbreviated words end with <c>:
doc sec pic mac spec
- <c> before /əl/ at the end of nouns and verbs = /kəl/:
circle cycle uncle tentacle spectacle
- the <-icle> suffix:
particle cubicle vehicle icicle article
- the letter <c> usually comes before the letters <a> , <o> or <u>
cab cane case cave cargo
con code cork combat cowboy
cut cube cuff cushion custard
- the letter <c> before <ur> represents the /ɜː/vowel:
curb curve curtain curse curfew
Practice /k/: Some Examples from the Lesson Recording
cosmic: cosmic comics
toxic: toxic relationship
antagonistic: antagonistic agnostic
sec: wait a sec
miracle: a miracle cure
Extend Your Learning
◼️ Pronunciation of /k/ Part Two HERE.
◼️ Pronunciation of /k/ Part Three HERE.
◼️ Pronunciation of /k/ Part Four HERE.
◼️ More examples of /k/ spelt ‘c’ HERE.
Want to speak clear and confident English? ▶︎ https://clearaccent.co.uk ✔︎
Improve Your Pronunciation
Sign up to get 3 Clear Accent Training Exercises (video).
*For email subscribers only.