The best part about the English language, is that there is often a rule (or generalization) for most words. One of the most asked questions that I get is: How do we know when it’s c, ck, ke, or k. AND why does /c/ sound like /s/ sometimes?! I can’t wait to show you! Don’t forget to read the whole thing and grab a freebie at the end.
Alright, so is it C or K?? Let’s get to it.
Beginning Sounds – C or K?
When we are talking about beginning sounds, we use C when the first vowel in the word is an A, O, or U.
Check out the pictures below that help us remember the c or k rule!
We use K when the first vowel in the word is an I or E. Here are some visuals that help us know remember the c or k rule. Remember though, with our new readers/writers, we want them sounding out with the sounds that they hear. We don’t need to focus on spelling until at least Grade 1.
Ending Sounds – c/k/ck/ke
- Let’s start with the two most straightforward options. Short vowels and long vowels.
Short vowels are the usual letter sounds we make for each vowel. Long vowels are when the vowel sound changes to say ‘its name’. Think of the words RIP and RIPE. The ‘i’ sound changes from short to long.
2. When the word contains a short vowel, it will end with CK. Here are a few examples: DUCK, STUCK, DOCK, SOCK, CLICK, FLICK, SACK. Listen to the vowel sound in each and you can hear the short sound consistently.
3. When the word contains a long vowel, it ends with KE. Here are a few examples: DUKE, PUKE, POKE, BLOKE, TAKE, MAKE, BIKE, LIKE. Listen to the vowel sound in each and you can hear it say it’s name.
4. Now let’s look at when we use C, and K.
We use C at the end of a word with 2 or more syllables. Think PICNIC, LOGIC, ARCTIC, COSMIC, DYNAMIC, ATHLETIC
We use K at the end of a word when it contains a vowel digraph (a double vowel). BOOK, LOOK, COOK, SEEK, CHEEK, MEEK, CREEK, GREEK.
Why does /c/ sound like /s/ sometimes?
When the sounds e, i or y come after /c/ it sounds like /s/. /C/ sounds like /k/ after any other letter!
I hope this was helpful for you! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to comment below and/or email me anything. I know how tricky this can be, so I also made a free anchor chart for you! Just pop your name/email in below and you’ll get an email in minutes! Happy spelling! – Kaley