3 ways to pronounce the QU sound in English

3 ways to pronounce the QU sound in English

http://www.engvid.com/ Do you know the difference in pronunciation between “question”, “queue”, and “quay”? English is not a phonetic language, so it can be confusing when a letter is not always pronounced the same way. In this lesson, you will learn three ways to pronounce the QU sound in English. To help you understand these differences in sound, you will also hear about the history behind the way we pronounce modern English. Did you know that the origins of the English language come from a combination of German, Greek, and Latin? Watch this video to learn more!


To be or not to be? That is the kestion. “Kestion”? I thought it was supposed to be “question”. Hi. James, from EngVid. This is a lesson on pronunciation. I have many students, especially from the Asian region. They’ll say, “kestion, Teacher. What is the kestion?” And I don’t blame them because they see the QU and they think it’s a K sound because in other parts of the world, QU is a K sound. But at the beginning of the word, it’s different. Now, today I’m going to help you with learning how to pronounce it, but I’m going to tell you why. So you’re going to get some history. And this is why I give history, to make it memorable. Because once you understand something and you can remember it, you can use it. Cool? Let’s go to the board.

So Mr. E was saying, “Is it a ‘kestion’ or a ‘question’? I have a ‘kwa’ sound.” Okay? Or why does the Q sound like “kwa”? Why do we have the “kwa”? Right? “Queen”, “quake”, “quail”, all “kwa”, obviously. Right? Well, English today is not a phonetic language. It’s not. All you have to ask yourself — do you live on a farm, or do you go to the pharmacist, and spell it, and you’ll go, “That’s kind of crazy.” And it is.

There are two main reasons for this. And I’m going to give you a little bit of English history. So let’s go to the book of English. Many pages. All blank. Okay. So history, because I want to give you a little bit of history. Now, English is actually made up of four language groups. Basically, the first group of English, which is — and the reason why I’m looking here is because I actually have the percentages. Okay? The first group of English were really German. It was a Germanic language, hence “Anglo-Saxon”. Okay? And that accounts for about 30 percent of our language. Do you know that? Sorry, 26 percent of the language is actually German because the first people were German speaking. Now, there was a time called the Dark Ages when knowledge was lost, and people, you know, they didn’t communicate because Rome had fallen. Remember, Rome was Latin. That’s another part of our language. And it was kept by the religious people. Right? They had all the knowledge, and they would spread it. When you went to school, they would teach people. So Latin became the technical language and the scientific language, all language of ideas. All the? And the German was the language spoken by the common people. Well, a kind of German. It was different from the German that we speak or German spoken today.

Now, Greek is because, you know — Greek and Latin languages, they were, actually, kind of close. From way back, there was a time where there was an exchange. So we have a little bit of Greek. Okay? In fact, that is where our alphabet comes from. A, B, C, as easy as alpha, beta, kappa, delta, epsilon. A, B, C, D, E. There you go. Greek influence on our alphabet. I’m giving you all of this for a reason that you’ll understand that why certain sounds which seem crazy make sense. And it’s going to be the Latin and Greek connection.

The final part is — we have the French come in. So why am I telling you this? I told you there were two reasons. No. 1, if you have four languages coming together, you can’t have rules — like, hard rules — because the languages have different rules. Okay? Second of all, it’s going to explain to you why this weird sound comes up in the first place. Part of, you know, the Greek and the Latin rules together, they created this Q sound in our language. The second main reason English isn’t phonetic — simple. It was until people wrote it down. What? When we say a language is phonetic, we say, basically, what’s written, how you write it is how you say. Well, before, English was what we call codified. When people used to spell things like “cow”, they would spell it like this, “kow”, and it was okay because only Johnny in Johnny’s town wrote it this way.