C is the third letter of the alphabet. C is a consonant. C represents two main sounds; hard and soft, and can also be silent.
Hard C represents the same sound as the letter K does in the word kite. C represents its hard sound when it immediately precedes the vowels a, o, and u in the same syllable:
CA, CO, and CU as hard C
cat can cop cot cut cup
C also represents its hard sound before the consonants L, R, K, T, and sometimes H.
CL, CR, CK, CT, and sometimes CH as hard C
clang creek back act Christmas
(Note: The sound of hard C before the vowels e, i and y, is spelled with the letter K, as in keep, kite, and Kyoto.)
If the word is multi-syllable, and the hard C sound is heard at the end of a second or later syllable and it follows a vowel sound, that sound is usually spelled with IC:
magic hectic optic fantastic music
Exceptions would be when a prefix is added, such as repack.
When the sound of hard C is heard right after a consonant, it is usually spelled with the letter K, as in bank. An exception is the work zinc. See more in Chapter Kk.
Soft C represents its soft sound, sounds like S as in sell, when it immediately precedes the vowels e, i, and y in the same syllable:
CE, CI, and CY as soft C
cent cedar cinema city cycle cylinder
When C is immediately followed by a silent e at the end of a single syllable, long vowel word, the C represents its soft sound.
Long Vowel + C + silent E, as soft C
face fleece slice twice juice
An exception is the word grocery where the C by itself sounds more like the /SH/ you hear in shall.
Note: For short vowel, single syllable words ending in a soft C sound, that sound is spelled with a double s, as in dress and grass. See more in Chapter Ss.
C is silent in the word czar.
C is paired with L and R for two common beginning consonant blends and the C is hard:
class clean clip clock clue
crab cream crisp crop crust
C is paired with the letters K and T for two common ending consonant blends:
back deck brick dock duck
fact perfect octopus duct
Note: C is usually paired with K at the end of a short vowel, single syllable word.
The CK pattern is also used at the end of the first syllable of a multi-syllable word when the vowel in the first syllable is short:
Short vowel + CK and in first syllable as hard C
package ticket locket trucker
Exceptions are the words tic and picnic. Note that there is also a word tick and that it has a different meaning than tic.
C is part of the CLE suffix which sounds like you’re saying cull at the end of the word.
cycle bicycle tricycle recycle
C is also part of the CAL suffix which sounds like you’re saying cull at the end of the word.
C is commonly paired with H and the CH combination can represent one of four sounds.
CH can represent a single speech sound (a digraph) as in the word chew.
CH as a digraph
champ check chicken chop church
CH can also represent the /K/ sound as it does in Chris.
CH as /K/
Christmas choral chorus chrome
(Hint, when CH represents the /K/ sound, there is usually an R near by, but the R does not always mean the CH will sound like the /K/ sound, just that there is a good possibility.)
There are also some CH words where the CH represents the /K/ sound without any R nearby:
CH as Hard C without an R nearby
ache echo stomach
CH can represent a /KW/ sound as in choir. It sounds like the QU does in the word quarter.
CH as /KW/
CH can also represent the /SH/ sound:
CH as /SH/
chef Chicago Cheryl Cher
C can be paired with I for two different sounds.
In the SCI pattern, the SC represents the soft C sound.
SCI as soft C
CI can also represent the /SH/ sound:
CI as /SH/
ancient efficient special proficient
A common spelling rule for C is I before E, except after C. This rule is true when the next vowel sound immediately after the C is long e, as in:
receive conceive ceiling
For other vowel sounds, the spelling is CI, as in:
ancient science efficient proficient special
Your feedback is welcome as this Phonetic Alphabet Book gets published in blog form. I will try to clarify anything you have questions about, and make it clearer. Thank you.
copyright Cheryl Paton
This book is being published a section at a time (by letter) on my blog, Phonetic Alphabet Book, and will eventually be published all together as a book.
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