Say It Right-Crack Consonant Clusters Easily Ep 712

A cup of cappuccino with artistic foam on top, set on a cafe table. Tackle tricky English sounds for clearer speech.

📝 Author: Hilary

📅 Published:

💬 2989 words ▪️ ⏳ Reading Time 15 min

📥 Download MP3 & PDF 11.3 Mb ▪️ 👓 Read Transcript ▪️ 🎧 Listen to Lesson

What Every English Learner Needs to Know About Consonant Clusters

🌟 Learn English Pronunciation with Adept English! Dive into the world of English with our latest tutorial! Unravel the mysteries of consonant clusters, especially the tricky 'double CC'. Whether you're a beginner, intermediate, or advanced learner, this lesson is tailored for you! 📘

Why You'll Love This Lesson:

  • 📚 Enhance your vocabulary with practical examples
  • 🗣️ Boost your speaking skills with pronunciation tips
  • 🎧 Sharpen your listening abilities with interactive exercises
  • 🌍 Embrace British culture and idioms
  • 📈 Progress from basic grammar to advanced conversation

✔Lesson transcript:

However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.
⭐ Stephen Hawking

In this lesson, you'll gain a key advantage: mastering tricky English pronunciation, especially with consonant clusters and the double C. By understanding these, you'll improve not just your pronunciation, but your confidence in speaking English.

Remember, perfecting these sounds can be the difference between being understood and not. This lesson offers practical, real-life examples, making it easier for you to apply what you've learned. So, dive in, and you'll soon notice your English sounding more natural and clear!

We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.
⭐ Maya Angelou

Unlock your #PronunciationPower with our lessons on tricky English sounds. Master the art of speaking clearly and confidently! Join us and transform your English language learning experience! 🚀

More About This Lesson

Welcome to our exciting lesson on English consonant clusters and double C pronunciation in English! Dive into the secrets of fluent English speaking and uncover the mysteries of words like 'backstroke' and 'Bournemouth.' This lesson is your first step towards speaking English more naturally and confidently.

You don't become what you want, you become what you believe.
⭐ Oprah Winfrey

Things you will learn in today's English pronunciation lesson:

  1. Learn to pronounce consonant clusters, key for clear speech.
  2. Get practice with tricky double CC pronunciation.
  3. Understand rules for different CC sounds in words.
  4. Learn exceptions and quirks of English pronunciation.
  5. Receive tips to relate spoken words to their spelling.
  6. Hear examples of common and less familiar words.
  7. Practice pronunciation with provided sentences.
  8. Improve understanding of compound words.
  9. Discover pronunciation influenced by word origins.
  10. Engage with interactive elements for better recall.

Benefits of our listen & learn approach to learning

In this lesson, we focus on:

  1. Consonant Clusters: Grasp the basics and tackle more complex combinations.
  2. Double C Pronunciation: Master the variations in words like 'success' and 'broccoli'.
  3. Practical Tips: Overcome common fears and obstacles in English pronunciation.
  4. Real-Life Examples: Apply your knowledge in everyday communication.
  5. Additional Resources: Explore Adept English's Consonant Pronunciation Course for more learning.
It always seems impossible until it's done.
⭐ Nelson Mandela

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Your journey to impeccable English pronunciation starts here. Don't miss out – learn the sounds and speak like a native!

Frequently Asked Questions about Consonant Clusters and Double C Pronunciation

Mastering consonant clusters and double C pronunciation in English is like navigating the intricate weave of a British tapestry, each thread a sound, woven together to create the rich, full picture of fluent English speech.

  1. What are consonant clusters and why are they important for English fluency? Consonant clusters are groups of consonants that occur together in words. They are important for English fluency because they frequently appear in both common and complex words. Mastering their pronunciation can significantly improve your spoken English, making it sound more natural and closer to that of native speakers.
  2. Can you give examples of words with consonant clusters? Yes, examples include "lengthwise," "birthplace," "backstroke," and "offspring." These words have multiple consonants grouped together, making their pronunciation challenging but essential for fluent English speaking.
  3. How is the double C pronounced in English, and are there any rules? The pronunciation of the double C varies. Generally, if it's followed by 'E' or 'I,' it's pronounced as 'KS' (e.g., "success," "vaccine"). If followed by 'A,' 'O,' or 'U,' it's a hard 'K' sound (e.g., "occurred," "broccoli"). However, there are exceptions, especially with words of foreign origin like "cappuccino."
  4. Why are exceptions like "cappuccino" pronounced differently? "Cappuccino" and similar words are exceptions because they originate from Italian, where the double C is pronounced as 'CH.' English often adopts the pronunciation rules of the original language for borrowed words.
  5. How can practising pronunciation with consonant clusters and double C improve my English? Practising these difficult pronunciations helps you to speak more accurately and confidently. It also enhances your ability to recognize and understand these sounds in others' speech, contributing to overall fluency in English.

Most Unusual Words:

  • Consonant clusters: Groups of consonants in a word.
  • Backstroke: A swimming style where you swim on your back.
  • Compound: Two words joined together to make one word.
  • Eccentric: Someone or something that is unusual or different from others.
  • Accidental: Happening by chance, not planned.
  • Cappuccino: A type of coffee with frothed milk.
  • Focaccia: A type of Italian bread.
  • Impeccable: Perfect, with no mistakes.
  • Accelerator: A pedal in a car that you press to go faster.
  • Hiccups: Sudden, involuntary spasms of the diaphragm muscle.

Most Frequently Used Words:


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Transcript: Say It Right-Crack Consonant Clusters Easily

Hi there. Today let’s look at English pronunciation challenges, in particular ‘consonant clusters’ and focusing on the double C. In a recent poll that we did on Spotify, you told us that you would like more speaking and pronunciation practice. We haven’t really done much of this recently, but we do offer our ‘Consonant Pronunciation Course’ for those who really want to perfect their English and ensure their pronunciation is as close as possible to native English speakers. You’ll find this course on our website, How about today I give you a taste of the type of lessons you’ll find in the Consonant Pronunciation Course?

Boost Your Learning With Adept English

And I’ll be giving you a really useful tip about pronunciation. Always worthwhile. You build your English language knowledge piece by piece, often without realising it. But today let’s fill in a piece that’s learnable, knowable and which you may not know already! This podcast will help you identify a pronunciation problem, give you a rule to follow, an exception to the rule - and why. And if you stick around until the end of the podcast, I’ll give you some practise at this difficult pronunciation.

Hello, I’m Hilary, and you’re listening to Adept English. We will help you to speak English fluently. All you have to do is listen. So start listening now and find out how it works.

Consonant clusters: An English trick to confuse learners?

So an example of difficult English pronunciation is what I call ‘consonant clusters’. The word ‘cluster’, CLUSTER means a group of things, all stuck together. So the pronunciation difficulty I’m talking about? Lots of consonants all together in a word. Both the English and the German language seem to love a consonant cluster. Just take the surname ‘Schwarzkopf’ for an experience of Germanic consonant clusters! So hard work to pronounce and may need a bit of practice. Examples of long consonant cluster words in English would be things like:-

lengthwise, birthplace, backstroke, offspring

These are problematic because there are a number of consonants clustered together in the middle of the word - like the CKSTR in the middle of ‘backstroke’. ‘Backstroke’ is the swimming style where you swim on your back, by the way! Words like ‘backstroke’ with lots of consonants in the middle are usually compound - meaning they’re two words joined together. Another place where you’ll find consonant clusters? British place names - particularly difficult! Try these:-

Bournemouth, Knightsbridge, Pocklington, Carlton Colville, Nantwich, Ilfracombe, Lechlade. And these are just some random British place names, but full of consonant clusters!


A festive balloon and a slice of cake, depicting a celebration or special occasion. Engage with sentences to perfect your pronunciation.

©️ Adept English 2024

Would 'succeed' spelled 'suckseed' be easier to pronounce?

So let’s focus in today on one of the shorter consonant clusters that sometimes present difficulties - that’s the double CC. Let’s try an experiment. Think about the word which is spelt SUCCEED. How would you pronounce the double C in that word? Got your answer? Great! It’s 'succeed' - so the first C is hard, like in 'cat', and the second is soft, like in 'cent', CENT. One of the ‘quirks’ of English pronunciation.

But the pronunciation of double C is different in different words. Of course it is, you say! If you’re familiar with English pronunciation, you’ll know it’s inconsistent and that’s the problem. But let’s try to make some sense out of this. So some examples of double C pronunciation:-

‘Succeed’ or ’accept’, ACCEPT. So again here that first C is hard - ‘ac’ and the second C is soft - ‘cept’. So we say ‘ack-sept’. It’s almost as though it should be spelt ACKSEPT - that would be easier, wouldn’t it? More words like this?

access, eccentric, accident, vaccine.

And of course, if it’s pronounced ‘accept’ then it’s the same in all other forms of the word, like ‘accepted’ and ‘acceptance’. Or with ‘success’ - it’s also ‘succeed’ and ‘successful’. And ‘accident’ and ‘accidental’, ‘vaccine’ and ‘vaccinate’.

Why is 'broccoli' not pronounced with this 'ks' sound?

But mysteriously for other words with double C, it’s pronounced as a hard ‘C’, like these:-

accurate, hiccup, accompany, occur, occasion, according to, bank account, tobacco, occupy, accuse, raccoon and broccoli.

There is a rule here - can you work it out? Giving you a few seconds - or you can pause the podcast, if you want more time….

OK - the answer. If the double C is followed by letters E or I, then usually you’ve got a KS sound – ‘vaccine’, ‘succeed’, ‘eccentric’, ‘accident’. And if the double C is followed by an A, an O or a U, then it’s more likely to be a hard sound like a ‘k’ – ‘broccoli’, ‘hiccup’, ‘tobacco’, ‘occur’. This is worth knowing - it means that you’ve a better chance of pronouncing correctly English words with double C that you haven’t met before. Or of being able to relate the spoken word to the written word, when you hear them.

English steals words from other languages!

And in English, there are always ‘curved balls’ - this is an English idiom to mean ‘things you just don’t expect’ that come at you like a clever corner kick in football. So there are words like cappuccino! CAPPUCCINO. So why is this double C pronounced as a ‘ch’ sound? Well, because it comes from Italian! Cappuccino, focaccia, fettuccine are other examples of Italian words in English with a double C and hence that different pronunciation - because of the origin.

Can knowing CC rules predict all English pronunciations?

Now the ‘Listen & Learn’ method of learning English means that you’ve probably heard words like ‘accept’ or ‘success’ enough times just to know how to say it automatically with a ‘KS’. They’re very common. And you’ve perhaps heard words like ‘tobacco’ and ‘account’ enough times to know that these words are pronounce with a hard ‘k’ sound. But the beauty of knowing this rule is that it gives you a better chance of pronouncing correctly English words that you’ve never seen before, that you don’t know - that have double C. This is an area of English that’s predictable, if you know this rule. So yes, the ‘Listen & Learn’ method is still the best for fluency and spoken English - but the Free Dictionary lists 12,602 words in English that contain a double C in their spelling - so knowing this rule will help you out with the pronunciation of many of those words that you don’t yet know. Nothing wrong with having more than one method of learning!

Is Your English Pronunciation 💬 Blocking Your Success?

Pronunciation Speaking Practice with double C

OK, so if that’s today’s lesson on pronunciation, let’s do some speaking practice on this. Here are some sentences which use words with a double C. It’s not important that these sentences make a lot of sense - I’ve put them together specifically to give you practice. Look at the transcript first to see if you can predict which pronunciation it is and have a practice saying the sentence yourself, before you listen to me say it.

Download The Podcast Audio & Transcript

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When I’ve said each one - and I’ll repeat them twice - I’ll leave a gap for you to repeat it. This way, your brain can make use of the ‘Listen & Learn’ method too to help you remember which way to pronounce these words. Here goes - practice on the correct pronunciation of words with double C in them.

  1. Lets celebrate our success with a cappuccino on this wonderful occasion. (Leaving a gap for you to repeat that!) Lets celebrate our success with a cappuccino on this wonderful occasion.

  2. I’m accompanying you for your vaccine because you’re eccentric and there’s no accounting for your behaviour! I’m accompanying you for your vaccine because you’re eccentric and there’s no accounting for your behaviour!

  3. I need access to your garden, so I can smoke my tobacco and look at your yucca plants and your succulents.
    I need access to your garden, so I can smoke tobacco and look at your yucca plant and your succulents.

  4. It occurs to me that your accent is from Morocco. It occurs to me that your accent is from Morocco.

  5. Please accept my apology for serving broccoli with your focaccia - I’ve been so occupied with the inaccurate figures in my accounts that I’ve not gone shopping! (I’ll break that one down) Please accept my apology for serving broccoli with your focaccia I’ve been so occupied with the inaccurate figures in my accounts that I’ve not gone shopping!

  6. Your aunt has impeccable manners, is very accomplished and successful at her job. Your aunt has impeccable manners, is very accomplished and successful at her job.

  7. After the accident, my car’s accelerator seems to be stuck and my car engine has hiccups! After the accident, my car’s accelerator seems to be stuck and my car engine has hiccups!

Don’t forget the Adept English Consonant Pronunciation Course

How did you get on with that? I hope you found it helpful - and it might need a bit of practice. It’ll get better if you practise several times. Don’t forget the Adept English Pronunciation Course is waiting for you on our website at Let us know how you found this lesson.


Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.

Thank you so much for listening. Please help me tell others about this podcast by reviewing or rating it. And, please share it on social media. You can find more listening lessons and a free English course at



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