Hard and Soft Sounds

Spelling Rules

Have you ever thought that English spelling rules are confusing? I surely have! The correlation between letters and sounds is not straightforward. A single letter can make many sounds. A single sound can be made by many letters or combinations of letters. This makes learning spellings a bit of a nightmare.

This need not be the case if we learn some basic spelling rules at the early stages of learning English. Spelling rules can help us understand patterns in spellings. This makes us remember spellings and learn new spellings easily. Read our previous articles about the sounds of a and sounds of s.

Phonics is an effective method to learn letter-sound correlations. Learning through Phonics at an early stage helps immensely in decoding English spellings.

Hard and Soft Sounds

In this article, we will learn the spelling rules for hard and soft sounds. The consonants ‘c’ and ‘g’ make two different sounds – hard and soft.

The hard sound for c is /k/, and the soft sound is /s/. The hard sound for g is /g/, and the soft sound is /j/.

Soft c

c makes the soft sound /s/ when followed by e, i, or y. In all other cases, c makes the hard sound /k/.

Examples: face, cell, city, juicy, receive, cent, cinch

soft c sound – /s/

Hard c

Examples: cat, car, cake, climb, calf, crumb, cough

hard c sound – /k/

Soft g

g makes the soft sound /j/ when followed by e, i, or y. In all other cases, g makes the hard sound /g/.

Examples: gem, giant, energy, gel, large, general, gene

soft g sound – /j/

Hard g

Examples: goat, gate, pig, gust, gum, gale, grow

hard g sound – /g/
Hard and soft sounds of c and g


Where there is a rule, there is always an exception. There are a few exceptions to the soft g rule.

1. Words of Germanic origin: get, give
2. Words derived from the Greek word ‘gyne’: gynaecology is the exception, other words like misogyny follow the rule
3. Hebrew names: Gideon
4. Scottish names: Gillespie

Can you find more?

Practice is essential

I learned these spelling rules quite late in life, only during the research and development stages of the NumberNagar® Phonics Kit. During this time, I have also found out that continual practice is essential to master this learning. I pay more attention to spelling rules now when I read and write.

Testing myself whether I can spot a rule reinforces what I have learnt. It is also interesting and amusing to find exceptions to the rules.

Also, here are some words that contain both the hard and soft sounds. Can you find more?

Examples: Bicycle, Success, Gorgeous, Gauge

When the learning process is engaging and enjoyable, it lasts longer.

Until next time, continue to stay curious!


All the articles related to Phonics on our blog can be found here. Did you know that the NumberNagar® Phonics method follows the widely acclaimed Orton-Gillingham approach?


NumberNagar® Phonics Kit

Have you explored the NumberNagar® Phonics Kit yet? It is the perfect gift for children in your family and friends’ circles. This New Year order your kit and gift a child the joy of learning. Check out what our customers are saying about the Phonics Kit.

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Dr. Soumya Sreehari

Co-Founder and Specialist at NumberNagar®
Dr. Soumya is an Educator and Researcher with a passion for reading, writing and teaching. She holds a PhD in Chemistry (Michigan Technological University, Houghton, USA). Her experience as a student and a teacher in two countries led her to pursue a career in Education. Her core work at NumberNagar® involves quality delivery of product and services at every stage of the customer life cycle. She leads the team that makes this happen. Previously she has taught Chemistry to first year undergraduate students at Michigan Technological University. She is a voracious reader and challenges herself to read 50 books every year.

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