The letter C “is no letter at all” John Baret 1580.

The letter C is a problem letter that has been talked about over the centuries. (Watch the video and/or read on)

Its sound can be: "k" / "s" / "ch" / "sh" / "q- cue" or silent

In this lesson we're looking at its sounds, rules and history

hard c- "k" (before a, o, u) cod, cat, curl, cold, cross
soft c "s" (before e, i, y) city, nice, face, circle, cement, cigarette, cinema, cyst, cycle, flaccid
hard c -cc- "k" account, soccer, accrue, occupy, yucca, occasion
soft c -cc- "s" (before e, i, y) accept, eccentric, occidental
c- "ch" cello, vermicelli, cappuccino - foreign borrowed words
-c- sh" special, liquorice, ocean
silent c - muscle, science, indict
"q" "cue" sound - cue, cucumber, cure, curiosity

We can have the British ‘kerb’ v American ‘curb’
and disk (British) v disc (American)

Since the 1700s the Q, K, S sounds are or have been used for Islam’s holy book - Coran, Koran to the now-favoured Quran or Qur’an.

Let's look at the history of this letter and why it's a 'strange' one.

In Anglo-Saxon English C was pronounced "k" or "ch" then the French invaded in 1066 and introduced the soft C ("s" sound).

The French scribes wrote C before i and e making it soft "s"– cell, city, procession, cellar, citizen, grace, palace

Modern words follow this old rule:

A soft c "s" before i, e or y - cinema, decide, celebrate, cemetery, cyber, cigarette, cylinder, centre/center, decision, cent, acceptance.

A hard c "k" before a, o, u, or a consonant, or at the end of words - can, could, cut, class, public, back, colour/color, Canada, claim

Some words with both sounds:
reconcile ( re con cile - hard c before o and soft c before i

It’s a good rule but with all rules there are exceptions so look out for them.

Let's do a spelling test

sound spelling test iconClick here to do the spelling test

happy woman


1. I received some exciting news yesterday.

2. To succeed in life it's necessary to keep learning.

3. Can you come to the cinema on Saturday?

4. I've decided to accept the job offer.

5.She's an accountant in Canada.

6. The decision to move out of the city centre/center (American English) was a hard one.

7. In America they call football soccer.

8.I'm certainly looking forward to celebrating my promotion.

Do the word search below. Takes a few seconds to load. Now won't work on PCs but works on tablets!!!
click here to do the word searchThe Letter C word search

The Letter C for seach

For more reasons why English Spelling is so Weird and Wonderful check out my ebook in the spelling shop.