C that sounds like “s”

The letter C can represent the sound "k" as in "cut" or the sound "s" as in "cent".

Teaching learners how this works and why it's a good thing when we start adding suffixes to words can be tricky, especially if they don't really understand "if-then" sentences yet.

Here's a 6 minute video I made about one way to do it.


Note that the spelling CC is sometimes followed by a letter E but the sound is still "k", e.g. soccer, sicced (as in "I sicced the dog onto the burglar and she ran off"). CC is like other doubled letters, its main purpose is to tell you to say a "short" vowel before it, as in raccoon, Mecca, piccolo, broccoli and buccaneer. Typically, but not always, we write CK instead of CC.

The spelling C+C might also represent a "k" sound at the end of one syllable followed by a "s" at the start of the next syllable, as in "accede", "accent", "accept", "access" and "coccyx". 

Also, either a single or double C might represent a "ch" sound in some Italian-origin words e.g. cello, Botticelli, bocce (click here for more).



5 thoughts on “C that sounds like “s”

  1. Ella

    The beginning of the exercise was great, I’ll definitely be using that with my children. That last part of the video (why we don’t just use a ‘k’ or ‘s’) began by making sense ie critic to criticism the letter ‘c’ becomes a different sound. But the last couple of examples a ‘k’ could have still been used either way ie panic/panik- panicky/paniky or mimic/mimik- mimicking/mimiking, so were a little confusing.

    1. alison Post author

      Hi Ella, thanks for the feedback, I’m not sure I 100% understand what you mean by “k could still have been used either way” as we don’t have many words ending in “ik” in English, just a few loan words like “batik” and “sputnik” and “shaslik”. Mostly this final syllable is spelt “ic”, but when we add a suffix beginning with E or I we change c to ck, or we’d have “panicing” and “mimicing” with C as in “cent” not C as in “cat”. Hope that makes sense, maybe I should have added that clarification to the video. Hope that makes sense. Alison


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