In a nutshell
The letter ‘q’ almost always appears in front of a ‘u’ and is usually pronounced with a ‘kw’ sound. On rare occasions it is pronounced with a ‘k’ sound – for example in ‘quay’ and ‘plaque’ or a ‘ky’ sound – as in ‘queue’.
‘Q’ is the second most uncommonly used letter in the alphabet – only ‘z’ is less common. In fact if you studied a piece of English you would typically find that fewer than one in a thousand letters was a ‘q’.
Stand in line please!
The word ‘queue’ is quite common in English, yet it is remarkable how often people spell it incorrectly. Few things look as bad in a formal piece of writing as ‘que’ or ‘Q’, so once your child is ready you may wish to get in early and teach them that the correct way to spell this strange word is ‘kyoo yoo-ee yoo-ee’
Videos for the letter q
Here is a short clip from Sesame Street featuring capital ‘Q’:
And here is a song that focuses on words beginning with ‘q’ and features the lower case and capital ‘Q’:
A good word for scrabble
One of the few English words where ‘q’ is not followed by ‘u’ is ‘qi’. This word is pronounced ‘chee’ and refers to ‘life force’ in Chinese culture. So, if you are stuck with a ‘q’ and not sure how to get rid of it, ‘qi’ may be an option – it is worth eleven points and guaranteed to annoy everyone you are playing with!
Q for Quebec
In English, ‘Quebec’ is most commonly pronounced ‘KWUH-bek’, (although it is also acceptable to say ‘KUH-bek’).
However, it is definitely not correct to say ‘KYOOH-bek’. Despite this, you can be assured that at this moment in a call center somewhere, someone is saying ‘Q for KYOOH-bek’ while spelling out a password for a client!
This is harder than it looks. See which one of you and your child is first able to say this five times quickly without making a mistake!
Quick kiss. Quicker kiss. Quickest kiss.
‘I Spy’ words
‘I spy with my little eye, something beginning with…’ is a great game to play to reinforce the sound that a letter makes and it can be a fun game to kill some time – for example on a long car trip.
Here is a selection of short words starting with ‘q’ for you to use:
queen, quay, quail, queue, quiche.
The Letter Q Worksheets
This letter q worksheet gives your child lots of opportunities to practice writing capital Q.
This letter q worksheet focuses on the lower case q.
This worksheet gives your child an introduction to the basic sound that ‘q’ makes’ and also allows them to practice writing the capital and lower case letter q.
‘Q’ is almost always followed by a ‘u’ and this worksheet gives your child six examples of words containing ‘qu’ for them to read’