THE TWO DISTINCT SOUNDS OF C AND G

Audio blog post by Dr. Isaacs. Click to listen and read along!

One of the most basic lessons in phonics is that two consonants in the English alphabet each can make two distinct sounds. If you were lucky enough to learn phonics as a young child, you may find this particular blog post a bit easy. But if not, this will still be a simple lesson to learn. Let’s go!

The hard and soft sounds of C

The letter c can make two distinct sounds: a hard sound \k\, as in can; or it can make a soft sound \s\, as in city. Obviously, this double identity can complicate spelling words with the letter c. But there are two rules that make spelling with the letter c easier. That is, at least, if you’re spelling the letter c and there is a vowel immediately after it.

The letter c that makes the sound \k\ is usually followed by the vowel a, o, or u.

Words with caWords with coWords with cu
carrotcowlickhandcuffs
Americanaglucosemolecule
edificationincoherentelocution
alpacacombinationcumulus
truncateencoreexcursion

The letter c that makes the sound \s\ is usually followed by the vowel e, i, or y.

Words with ceWords with ciWords with cy
mincepencillegacy
icebergcivicscylinder
incendiaryhomicideCyrillic
triglyceridesprincipalityhalcyon
virulenceveracitypneumatocyst

Part 2 of the audio blog post continued here. Click to listen and read along!

The hard and soft sounds of G

As with the letter C, the letter G can make two distinct sounds. First is a hard sound: in this case, \g\, as in go. Second is a soft sound: the sound \j\, as in giant. However, the rules for the letter G are not as cut-and-dry in this case. Be careful with this letter.

The letter g that makes the sound \g\ is usually followed by the vowel a, o, or u.

Words with gaWords with goWords with gu
garlicgoldenbogus
organicangorapenguin
navigatorvertigoguffaw
legatoPatagonialanguish
rutabagagoslinglugubrious

The letter g that makes the sound \j\ is usually followed by the vowel e, i, or y.

Words with geWords with giWords with gy
geneticfragilegymnastics
badgertangibleapology
cabbageallegianceEgyptian
imageryseismologistgyrocopter
outrageouslegislatureentomophagy

The hard G exceptions

The letter g that makes the sound \g\ can occasionally be followed by the vowel e, i, or y.

Words with geWords with giWords with gy
targetgimmickgyascutus
tigernoggingynecocentric
wordmongercorgirealgymnasium
Limburgerundergirdbergylt
kugelbulgogigyokuro

These last words tend to be the exception, and not the rule. German especially is fond of words with the prefix ge-, with a hard \g\ sound. Other words that fit this group include gestalt and gesellschaft. On the other hand, words that contain gy with a hard \g\ sound are quite rare. However, it is a good idea to keep some of these words in your back pocket, especially if you are an advanced speller.


Photo credit: neurdy