Skip to main content

How do you say the CH in headache?

We all know that a common confusion in English concerns pronunciation.

For example, the Cs in the sentence above are pronounced hard, hard, hard and then soft, soft as explained here.

But what happens when C is followed by H?

There are 3 options:

Mostly CH sounds like TCH as in chat, cheese, church, much, sandwich and winch.

But it can also be pronounced as a K making the CH in stomach and ache hard. The same goes for school and choir.

These words are often from Greek, like character, chemistry and mechanics. Italian has also given us words with a hard K sound, such as zucchini, chiaroscuro and scherzo.

However, words of French origin are pronounced softly as SH: chef, charade, machine, and nonchalant.

Knowing where a word comes from is handy.

But noticing the pronunciation when others speak and checking when you’re not sure is just as useful.

If you need more help with your pronunciation headaches, see here, here and here.

And liked this? Sign up for email alerts and get a free taster of how we can work together to get your professional English unstuck.

© Christina Wielgolawski