Two ways to pronounce the letter C in French

Complex grammatical rules, lots of irregulars, specific pronunciation…
French can be a beautifully tricky language. To pronounce French words correctly may seem difficult.

Let me help you with that.

In this article, we are going to learn the two different ways to pronounce the letter C.


Hard and soft C

First of all, we need to distinguish between what we call a hard C and a soft C.

The hard C in French is pronounced /kuh/ like the English hard C found in the words: cat, cup, comedy, etc.

The letter C in French will thus produce the hard sound /kuh/ when the letter that follows it is the vowel A, O, U or a consonant.

un cube, une coupe, une cape, comment
une cloche, crever, craindre

What we call the soft C in French is pronounced /s/ as with the English words: snake, soup, suddenly, etc.

Consequently, the letter C in French is pronounced /s/ when the letter that follows it is the vowel E, I or Y (keep in mind that Y is a vowel in French).

un cygne, un centime, des ciseaux



The cedilla

We call “cédille” the diacritical mark attached under the letter C in French.
It produces the sound /s/ as for the soft C sound we studied before, regardless of the letter that follows it.
ça, un garçon, déçu



To go further

The combination of the letter C and H in French -ch- produces the sound /sh/ like in the English words: shell, ship, shush
un chameau, une chambre, un chien, une écharpe
19 de Abril de 2019
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Melissa

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Hi everyone :) My name is Melissa, and I am 30 years old! I graduated from the Sorbonne and I have been teaching French, English, and Spanish for 9 years. I was born and raised in Paris but I come from a multi-cultural and multi-lingual family. Consequently, I am a native French, English, and Spanish speaker. I love traveling! I love experiencing new cultures and getting to know the history of a country! That's why I have lived and worked in different countries. My other hobbies are playing/listening to music, dancing, drawing, and cooking. I am also interested in sports and animals. I would love to tell you more about it! Me as a teacher: I hold a Master's Degree in Applied Linguistics –in English, Spanish and French. I have studied FLE -to teach French as a foreign language- and I also hold a TEFL certification –to teach English. I have been teaching for 9 years -private and group classes; beginner to advanced students- and I am still very passionate about my job! I love languages and I love helping others achieve their goals. My lessons and teaching style: As a teacher, I am very organized, patient, funny and flexible. I am used to complete beginners so don't be shy :) For levels A0 to B2, we follow my own syllabus and will mostly work with books -I share my screen with you. We'll work on all the skills -speaking, listening, reading and writing- as they all are important. If you have a higher level, we can go for informal conversation classes. Personal work between classes is essential! Be curious :)
Flag
Francês
globe
França
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29
Fala:
Francês
Nativo
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Espanhol
Nativo
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Italiano
A2
,
Tailandês
Hi everyone :) My name is Melissa, and I am 30 years old! I graduated from the Sorbonne and I have been teaching French, English, and Spanish for 9 years. I was born and raised in Paris but I come from a multi-cultural and multi-lingual family. Consequently, I am a native French, English, and Spanish speaker. I love traveling! I love experiencing new cultures and getting to know the history of a country! That's why I have lived and worked in different countries. My other hobbies are playing/listening to music, dancing, drawing, and cooking. I am also interested in sports and animals. I would love to tell you more about it! Me as a teacher: I hold a Master's Degree in Applied Linguistics –in English, Spanish and French. I have studied FLE -to teach French as a foreign language- and I also hold a TEFL certification –to teach English. I have been teaching for 9 years -private and group classes; beginner to advanced students- and I am still very passionate about my job! I love languages and I love helping others achieve their goals. My lessons and teaching style: As a teacher, I am very organized, patient, funny and flexible. I am used to complete beginners so don't be shy :) For levels A0 to B2, we follow my own syllabus and will mostly work with books -I share my screen with you. We'll work on all the skills -speaking, listening, reading and writing- as they all are important. If you have a higher level, we can go for informal conversation classes. Personal work between classes is essential! Be curious :)
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