How Is 'C' Pronounced in French?

Treat the 'C' Much the Same as You Would in English

The letter 'C' in French is very similar to how we use it in English. It can be hard or soft depending on the letters that follow it, it can have an accent, and the pronunciation changes when combined with other letters. 

This quick French lesson will walk you through the various ways to pronounce the letter 'C.' There are even a few examples to practice along the way.

How to Pronounce the 'C' in French

The letter 'C'  is a lot like the 'C' in English.

The sound will change depending on if it is followed by a hard or a soft vowel.

The French 'C' can be pronounced in one of two ways:

  1. Soft pronunciation - In front of an 'E,' 'I,' or 'Y,' the 'C' is pronounced like an 'S': listen.
  2. Hard pronunciation - In front of an 'A,' 'O,' 'U,' or a consonant, 'C' is pronounced like a 'K': listen.

When a 'C' is in front of a hard vowel but has to be pronounced as a soft 'C,' the accent cédille - ç - is added to make it soft. Thus, 'ç' is never found in front of an 'E' or 'I' because those are soft vowels.

French Words With 'C' 

With that introduction, let's practice a few 'C' words in French. Given what you just learned, try to pronounce each of these words on your own. Then, check to see how you did by clicking on the word and listening to the proper pronunciation.

Run through this exercise as much as needed to perfect your 'C' sounds and expand your vocabulary.

Letter Combinations With 'C'

The letter 'C' is also used in a few common combinations and the 'C' sound will change. As you learn more French, you will come across these quite often, so it's good to practice them.

  • CH - Pronounced like the English 'SH' or like a 'K.'
  • SC - In front of soft vowel, it sounds like an 'S.' In front of a hard vowel or consonant, the 'S' and 'C' are pronounced separately and according to their respective rules.
  • XC - In front of a soft vowel, it sounds like [ks] or the soft 'X.' In front of a hard vowel or consonant, the 'X' and 'C' are pronounced individually and according to their traditional rules.