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.
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
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
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