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Is that a hard or a soft C?

In the current confusing chaos, we need courage and creativity.

A client recently asked me how to know when to pronounce a hard or a soft C.

In current, confusing, chaos, courage, creativity and client the C is a hard sound.

In recent and pronounce it’s a soft C. Ditto in centre, city, decide and cylinder.

Have you noticed the pattern?

Look at the vowel that follows the C. When C is followed by E, I or Y (acting as a vowel), the sound is usually soft.

When C is followed by A, O, U or other letters, it’s usually hard.

Like in clear, concise, correct and conversational and back, panic and public.

And some words contain both hard and soft C sounds:

certificate, concern, cybercrime, cycle, success and vacancy.

So remember: soft C + E, I and Y while the rest are hard C.

Well apart from CH that is, which has its own way of doing things – but more on that another time.

See here, here and here for explanations of other common confusions.

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© Christina Wielgolawski