Sometimes we use the soft sound, and sometimes the hard – but why? Is there any rule?
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closed as general reference by Andrew Leach, Matt Эллен, StoneyB, MετάEd, tchrist Mar 10 at 15:12
This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information. See the FAQ for guidance on how to improve it.
As I've had occasion to say before,
Consequently the letter C can represent
as well as other sounds, depending on where their spelling has been borrowed from.
There are etymological rules for pronunciation,
So most people don't ever learn them, and get frustrated at spelling instead.
Once you have, however, you'll see that (if you avoid "CH"), "C" gets pronounced like /s/ before I and E, and like "K" before other vowels. "SC" is /sk/ unless it's a borrowed Italian word with "SCI", which is pronounced like she.
Yes, certainly there is a rule: the rule is to do so whenever the Dictionary tells you to, of course!
Beyond that. . . .
Once you consider coelacanth and czar, chemist and nonchalant, church and arcing, you will understand why the Poet says that “my advice is to give up”. — Dr. Gerard Nolst Trenité
Phonetically, the letter c usually takes a hard sound when it comes before back vowels (a, u and o): car, coal, collect, calendar, curtain; and soft when it comes before the front vowels (e, and i); ceiling, cinder, circuit, certain.
Its not fair to name a few exceptions and say there are no rules. There are rules, and a few exceptions.