ck or k rule

This language lesson is designed for 3-6-year-old children to guide them about ‘CK’ and ‘K’ spelling generalizations.

Spelling generalizations are an important part of phonics as it helps children with selecting the correct pronunciation of a letter, or group of letters, or spelling pattern, within a word or syllable. 

In our previous video, we learned the FLOSS rule. In this video, the child learns when to use ‘CK’ or ‘K’ when a word ends with a /k/ sound. The concept of spelling generalization allows the child to spell several words using the standard spelling rules. 

CK or K Rule in Spelling

The ck Sound Rule

  1. CK at the end of the word: When there is a /k/ sound immediately after a short vowel sound, then it is written as ck. For example- snack, pluck, and clock.
  2. CK in the middle of the word: The ck letter is also used in the medial position of the word when the/k/ sound is followed by a short vowel. For example–pickles, tickets, and chicken.

Forming Words with CK

Read the following words with the generalization rule (ck) mentioned as above.

  • St + a + ck = stack
  • L + a + ck = lack

Here, the short vowel is followed by /k/ sound. Hence, we will spell it with ck.

Similarly, read the following:

  • L + a + ck = lack and
  • l + o + ck = lock
  • L + u + ck = luck

The k Sound Rule

  1. When the /k/ sound is preceded by a long vowel or vowel combination, then it is spelled and written with k. For example- cake, peek, and leak.
  2. When there is /k/ comes after a constant, no matter which vowel is there prior to the consonant, then it is spelled with k. For example- lurk, perk, dark, and prank.

Forming Words with K 

Read the following words with the generalization rule (k) mentioned as above.

  • P + ee + k = peek

In the above word, the vowel combination is followed by the /k/ sound will be spelled with k

  • Sm + i + r + k = smirk

Here, a short vowel is followed by a consonant and which is finally followed by (/k/ sound). Hence, it will be spelled with k

Similarly, read:

  • L + u + r + k = lurk
  • P + a + r + k

Ck or k Rule Exceptions

The above generalization rule also carries an exception. When the word has multiple syllables and ends with the /k/ sound then it is written with c. For example frantic, acrobatic, magic, republic. A few more exceptional words for this rule are sync, zinc, epic, and arc.

Furthermore, this rule also works with the individual words that combine to form a compound word. For example – ticktock, book stack.

Commonly used ‘CK or K’ Words

CK – back, check, hack, mock, clock, block, duck, neck, peck, lack, tack, rack, tuck, pick, lick, cock, buck, rack.

K – weak, leak, teak, dark, park, book, break, cloak, milk, fork, pink, soak, week, task, flask, husk, freak, cook.

CK or K Rule Reading Readiness

To comprehend ck/k spelling generalization rules properly, it is necessary for the children to understand long vowels, short vowels, vowel combinations, and magic-e. The following questions will be helpful in deciding which spelling should be used:

  • Is this word one syllable?
  • Is the vowel short or long?

If the vowel sound is short, does the /k/ sound come after a consonant such as l, n or r? If yes, add K, else add CK.

If the vowel sound is long, such as magic e or a vowel team, add K.

Mastering the rules of the English language takes time. It needs ample practice and tasks for a child to get firm with the CK/K spelling generalization. Adding activities on a daily basis can help children to remember this rule.

Activities to help the child understand the generalization rule of ‘CK and K’.

  • Give the students a block with the starting letter or combinations of letters. Encourage them to form a word ending with the/k/ sound and they have to place c or ck correctly at the end of the word.
  • Games are always the favorite of children. Play a board game wherein the child has to spell a word correctly that carries the /k/ sound. Once spelled correctly, the child can roll a die and win points.
  • Another technique to help children develop a solid comprehension of the rule is to ask them the reason for opting for a particular spelling. For instance, why they selected to use ‘ck’ in the term stack or why they decided to use ‘k’ in the words peek or smirk. Any requirement for clarification can be sorted with this technique.

English is a bit of a complicated language but has been made much easier with the use of phonics. The generalization rule here can help the child understand the why and how to sort the /k/ sound.

Repeat this activity by asking the child to practice the spelling generalization with different words in the English language.

Watch the video and allow the child to practice the CK or K spelling generalization with different words in the English language. This helps to instill confidence in creating different words as they learn to read and write.

Related Videos:

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Video Created by: Justine McNeilly


  • What is the difference between K and CK?

K and CK are two different ways of spelling the same sound in English. “K” is the more common spelling, while “CK” is used only after a single vowel letter that represents a short vowel sound (e.g. “back”, “lick”, “duck”).

  • What is the K rule in spelling?

The “K rule” in spelling refers to the convention that when the letter combination “k” and “e” come together at the end of a word, the “k” is usually silent and the “e” is pronounced. For example, in the word “like”, the “e” at the end is pronounced because of the K rule.

  • Is CK a phonogram?

A phonogram refers to a symbol representing a sound or a group of sounds. “CK” is a combination of two letters that represents a single sound, so it can be considered a phonogram.

  • Why do we use CK words?

CK words are used in English to represent the /k/ sound that comes after a short vowel sound. They are used instead of a single letter “k” to maintain the phonetic sound of the word. Examples of CK words are “backpack”, “brick”, and “duck”.


  • elementary level
  • english language
  • phonic sound
  • pronunciation
  • spelling generalization