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Learning Q & Qu, and its Phonics Sound

When teaching the letter Q and its /koo/ sound, it is always taught along with "Qu", simply because, almost all words in English have "Qu" paired together. Rarely will you ever find any words where the letter "U" does not follow "Q". If you look hard, you will find many words where Q appears by itself, however, most of these types of words originate from other languages, and are not native to English. For example, "Qi" comes from Chinese /chi/, and "Cinq" comes from French. You will also find some names (nouns) where Q appear by itself. For example: Iraq, Qatar, Nasdaq.

These rare exceptions aside, you will always find Q paired together with U as "Qu".

So when you teach the letter Q and its "koo" sound, explain that in English, you will always see "Qu" instead of "Q" by itself in words. Teach the sound of Q and Qu as "koo".

Note: The acutal sound of Q and Qu is "Qwuh", but you'll probably find it much easier to teach young children, and works just as well, to teach it as "koo" instead.

Below are some sample words for Qu:

QUICK - /qu/ /i/ /ck/ - "koo-ick"

QUIT - /qu/ /i/ /t/ - "koo-it"

Learning Activity for /q/

  1. Show the letter Q and tell your child that it makes the /koo/ sound.
  2. Show the letter combo Qu next, and tell your child that it also makes the /koo/ sound. Also explain that in English, almost all Q words have "QU" paired together.
  3. Stretch the sound and say "koooooooo"
  4. Practice the /q/ sound with the word list from above.
  5. Ask your child to identify the /koo/ sounds in each of the words, and see if your child can think of any other Q words.
  6. Work on the worksheet provided below.
  7. Pop quiz: point to Q and Qu and ask what sound does it make.

Letter Q Worksheets