The letter Q is usually pronounced as /k/. The letter group QU is often pronounced as a combination of /k/ and /w/.

“Qui” is a common letter group in English words and there are 4 distinct ways of pronouncing it. This can occur at the beginning or in the middle of words.


Pronunciation

1.   QUI = /kwɪ/

This is the most common. Think of pronouncing “we” with a /k/ at the front, “k-we”

At the beginning:

  • Quick
  • Quit
  • Quiz
  • Quiver
  • Quidditch

In the middle:

  • Squish
  • Equipment
  • Tranquility​
2.   QUI = /kwaɪ/​

This is like “why” with a /k/ at the front, “k-why.”

At the beginning:

  • Quite
  • Quiet

In the middle:

  • Equine
  • Inquiry
  • Unrequited

* Tip: The word, “quiet,” is made up of 2 syllables (qui-et). When vowel sounds are linked between syllables, often a y-sound (/j/) is produced. 

3.   QUI = /kwɜ/​

This is less common in English words and letter groups that end with “r” are usually pronounced this way. This is like “were” with a /k/ at the front, “k-were.”

At the beginning:

  • Quirk
  • Quirt

In the middle:

  • Squirm
  • Squirt
4.   QUI = /ki/

This is even less common in English words. This is the same as “key.”

At the beginning:

  • Quinoa
  • Quiche

In the middle:

  • Mannequin
  • Tequila

Original posts: 8 September 2018

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