Spelling the /k/ sound before a vowel : is it c or k?

spell c or k before a vowel? spell c or k before a vowel?
Why is it c in cat but k in kitten?

Teaching point The most common spelling choice for the /k/ sound is the letter c but sometimes we need to use k.

[The symbol /k/ is used to show this sound. The letter c can often say /s/ (as in cent, city, cycle) so it could be confusing to use it to show a sound. K always has the sound /k/.]

There are some rules to help with the spelling choices for the /k/ sound:

1. If the next vowel is a, o or u, we usually use c.

call, carrot
py, colour (US color)
p, cucumber

2. If the next vowel is e or i, we usually use k.


keep, kettle
kill, kitchen

There is a good reason for this rule:
When c is followed by e or i, it will make the sound /s/ as in cent and circle. So, if you want the sound /ke/ or /ki/, you must use k.

3. If the next letter is a consonant e.g. r or l , we almost always use c. Examples:

crab, cricket
close, clap

next part of the spelling course Go to next page: Practice in the /k/ rules -
ca, co, cu, ke, ki, cr, cl

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Unit 2: Spelling the consonant sounds, part 1

Page 10 of 13

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