172: The 'cc' spelling pronunciations (as in 'accuse' and 'succeed)

Is it /k/ as in 'accuse' or /ks/ as in 'succeed'


Hi again, and welcome back to Seattle Learning Academy's American English pronunciation podcast. My name is Mandy, and this is our 172nd episode.

This podcast includes a lot of information about spelling, so if you want to see the spellings I talk about instead of just hearing me say the letters, go to www.pronuncian.com/podcast and click episode 172. Then you can read along.

Usually, when we have a word spelled with double consonants--like p-p or b-b or d-d--we pronounce both letters as one single sound. For example, the middle two p's of the word puppy are said as just one p sound. We say puppy, not pup-py. Likewise, we say rabbit and address, not rab-bit and ad-dress, even though the word rabbit is spelled with two b's and address is spelled with two d's.

When we have two consecutive c's in a word, we need to be careful, though; sometimes the two c's are pronounced as a single k sound (as in the word accuse), and sometimes the two c's are pronounced as the k sound followed by the s sound (as in the word succeed). Let's explore some more examples before we get to the pattern in these pronunciations.

In additional to the word accuse, the two c's in the words accustom, occasion, impeccable, accommodate, and tobacco are pronounced with a single k sound. In addition to the word succeed, the two c's in the words access, vaccine, and accident are pronounced as a k sound followed by an s sound. Did you hear the /ks/ in those words? I'll say them again, broken apart by syllable: suc-ceed, ac-cess, vac-cine, and ac-cident.

Luckily, there is a pattern to help you know which pronunciation to use. Knowing this pattern will help you not only with words spelled with two c's, but also with words spelled with one c. Here is the pattern: if the letter c, or the letters c-c, are followed by the letters a, o, or u, the c or c-c is pronounced as a single k sound. Here are examples of the single and double c (I'll leave time for you to repeat after each example):

c+a: vocabulary, c-c+a: occasion
c+o: second, c-c+o: accommodate
c+u: document, c-c+u: accustom

If the letter c is followed by the letters e or i, the letter c is pronounced as an s sound. If the letters c-c are followed by the letters e or i, the pronunciation will be k sound plus s sound /ks/. Here are some examples:

c+e: recent, c-c+e: succeed
c+i: decide, c-c+i: accident

Could you hear it? Here are some more words spelled c-c+e or c-c+i to help you recognize the /ks/ pronunciation:


Since that was relatively easy, I thought I'd give you one more bit of bonus information: if a word is spelled with c+y, the c is pronounced as an s sound. This includes the words cycle and cyst and all the the words that end in the -cy suffix (such as legacy, policy, fluency and urgency). You don't need to worry about c-c-y, though, because there are no common English words with that spelling.

Since language is learned by repetition and practice, I'll be posting daily examples of c-c+e and c-c+i words to our Facebook and Twitter feeds for the next 2 weeks. If you want to follow along or participate, like us on Facebook.com/EnglishAssembly or follow us on Twitter.com/pronuncian. Also, feel free to use Facebook and Twitter to give us feedback or tell us if there are any special topics you'd like us to cover. We would love to hear from you!

That's all for today, everyone. This has been a Seattle Learning Academy digital publication. SLA is where the world come to learn.

Thanks for listening. Bye-bye.