In English the letter Q has two sounds and is always followed by the letter U.

For most English words the pronunciation of the qu is actually a combination of the K and the W. But there are a few words where the qu sounds like a K without the W.

Note that the examples are in three columns. The first column provides an example of the sound when it is word initial (at the beginning of the word). The second column provides an example of the sound when it is word internal (in the middle of the word). The third column provides examples of the sound when it is word final (at the end of the word).

Click on the sample words to listen to the sound files. Pay attention to the sound of the letters in bold.

letter IPA* examples
q kw queen
k quay

*IPA means International Phonetic Alphabet. Learn more about phonetics and the IPA.

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1 Response

  1. Rohan Roger David Zener 4 December 2014 / 03:52

    The ‘q’ actually appears alone in several European or Semitic words and in borrowed English words from, eg, Arabic and French. There, it sounds just like ‘k’. Examples:

    qibla (Arabic, direction to Mecca)
    rhaqaba (Arabic, “burden”)
    qen (Albanian, “dog”)
    coq (French, “cockerel”)

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