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How to Pronounce Hard & Soft G & C

February 13, 2020

Unlike many languages that have a one-to-one sound/spelling correspondence, English pronunciation is notoriously difficult. There aren’t a lot of pronunciation rules for language learners to follow, and often it’s just a matter of hearing a word and memorizing how it sounds.

Sometimes, however, students can catch a break with certain letters or sounds that actually follow a set of pronunciation rules. Such is the case with the letters G and C!

From great to gym to cake to city, the letters G and C can be pronounced as a “hard” or “soft” sound. It often depends on the position of the letter in a word and on the letter that follows it.

Pronunciation Rules for G & C

Rule #1

When G or C is followed by E, I, or Y, the sound is soft.

  • gender
  • gym
  • cell
  • cinnamon

Rule #2

When G or C is followed by A, O, or U, the sound is hard.

  • gate
  • go
  • cat
  • cupboard

Rule #3

When G or C is followed by a consonant, the sound is hard.

  • glass
  • program
  • fact
  • clock

Rule #4

When G or C is doubled, the sound is hard.

  • egg
  • foggy
  • occur
  • broccoli

Rule #5

When a word ends in G or C (or CK), the sound is hard.

  • bag
  • pig
  • magic
  • sick

Rule #6

When a word ends in G or C + E, the sound is soft.

  • age
  • ridge
  • fence
  • office


Exception #1

Some common words do not follow the rules for hard and soft G, such as begin, get, and give.

Exception #2

Some words with a double C have a hard sound followed by a soft sound, such as accent, acceptable, and vaccine.

Exception #3

When G is followed by H, it is sometimes pronounced as /f/, such as cough, laugh, and enough. Other times it is silent, such as high, though, and bought.

Exception #4

When C is followed by H, it is pronounced as /tʃ/, such as cheese, watch, and church.

Exception #5

When a word ends in N + G, it is pronounced /ŋ/, such as sing, bring, and running.


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