Lesson 41: K Sound Part One
English Jade: Practice /k/

In this lesson, we will begin learning the pronunciation and spelling of the /k/ sound in English. Learning /k/ is going to take us a while, as it has the most spelling patterns of all the consonants. This lesson is Part One of Four and will focus on words spelt with a letter ‘c’ that are pronounced as /k/.

The Madness of English

As you know from following these English Jade lessons, 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/

  1. 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

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About Jade Joddle Jade Joddle is a speech and voice teacher who gives her non-native speaker clients back the confidence they had in their native language. She teaches high-level professionals to Speak Well in English so that they thrive and succeed.