Last updated on November 24th, 2023 at 02:37 pm
How can you know how to pronounce words with a ch letter combination?
Words that contain the ch combination can be pronounced in three different ways depending on their origins. Words of Germanic origin, or words that come from Old and Middle English, pronounce ch as /tʃ/. This sound is the closes to the Spanish ch sound as in Chamartin or chocolate.
Words that were borrowed from Greek, tend to pronounce ch as /k/. This is the same /k/ sound as can be found in Spanish words, for example kilo.
Finally, we have words of French origin which tend to pronounce ch as a /ʃ/ sound. This is the same /ʃ/ as in show or shoes.
As you can see, I said words of a certain origin tend to pronounce ch in one way or another. This is because there is a strong tendency or pattern based on the origin of the word. However, languages change over time, and this includes the pronunciation, too.
As a result, most French words have shifted from /tʃ/ to /ʃ/, whereas other words, such as chance and challenge, have retained the /tʃ/ pronunciation.
Another example would be words of Italian origin that use the /k/ sound. For instance, Pinocchio. And then there are also Germanic words, for instance, stomach and school, that use the /k/ sound.
Curiously, some words can have two pronunciations. For example, schedule can be pronounced with either a /k/ or a /ʃ/ sounds.
Look at and listen to the examples below.