Hard and Soft Sounds for C and G
The Pronunciation of C and G generally (but not always, see below) depends upon the letter following either 'C' or 'G'.
- If the following letter is E, I or Y, the pronunciation is said to be soft.
- If the following letter is anything else - including a space - the pronunciation is termed hard.
- A soft C is pronounced s as in cell, ,city, decision, receive, license, distance, recently, pronounce, juicy, cylinder
- A hard C is pronounced k as in call, correct, cup, cross, class, rescue, fact, public, panic, ache
- A soft G is pronounced j as in general, giant, gymnastic, large, energy, intelligible, changing
- A hard G is pronounced g as in golf, pig, running, great, gum, fragrant, grasp, glut, progress
Words Including Both Hard and Soft Sounds
There are a few interesting words that include both hard and soft sounds. Some examples include:
success, circulate clearance
bicycle, vacancy, garage
gauge, geography, gigantic, gorgeous
When a hard pronunciation is wanted, but the following letter would make it soft, we sometimes add h after c (as in architect) or u after g (as in guest). Alternatively, the following letter is doubled (as in outrigger).
These rules also explain some difficult spellings. George and guest and trigger could not be spelt Gorge or gest or triger and still retain their pronunciation. Also, it can now be seen why sag/rag and sage/rage are spelt and pronounced the way they are.
Nothing is easy - so there are some exceptions to these rules. These mostly involve giving hard pronunciation to words where the rule indicates the soft sound. These exceptions include:
gear, get, gelding, give girl gift tiger, celt
Present participles of some verbs that end with g, such as banging and ringing.
Other exceptions are foreign words that have been adopted into the English language, such as: gestalt and geisha