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Galimatias Blog

English pronunciation can feel like chaos...

Kirjoittanut: Rytkönen Claire / 11.2.2021 12:15

In English ”scene, scheme, and scenario” are three very common business words. Unfortunately, they also have a very tricky pronunciation pattern. Over the years I have heard many otherwise fluent Finns come unstuck on the horror trinity of ”scene, scheme, and scenario”. However, help is at hand if some key pronunciation rules are followed…

English pronunciation can indeed feel like chaos – but don’t despair, there is some method in the madness!
Let Galimatias show you how…

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Where Finnish has one "s"-sound, English has many


Scan and scene are pronounced very differently, though they are written nearly the same way.
So are conscience and science, and disc and discipline.

The letters ”sc” in English together can represent three different sounds, “s”, “sk” or “sh”. Sometimes it can be confusing and tricky to pick the right pronunciation

However, there are some key rules that will help you pick the right pronunciation. These will help you handle words that may come up in your business life.

Key rules for pronunciation of “sc”

  1. SC as “SK”

“sc” is pronounced “sk” before most consonants or at the end of word
“sc” is pronounced “sk” before the vowels “a”, “o” and “u”


Before most consonants:
scream, school, schedule, scheme

Before vowels “a”, “o”. and “u”: 
scan, scary, scatter, scope, scone, scum, scuttle
Ending a word:
disc, mollusc, fisc
Two notable exceptions
Americans pronounce “schedule” according to this rule with an “sk” while Brits pronounce it as “schedule” with a “sh”.
“Muscle” is irregular and pronounced with a “s” sound despite the consonant “l” following “sc”.

  1. SC as “S”

In general
“sc” is pronounced “s” before the vowels “e” and “i”

Before vowels “e” and “i”:
scene, scenario, science, sci-fi, scissors, discipline
Notable exceptions
There are some words that are a language mix (Latin + Greek/ Greek + German) where “sci” is pronounced “sh”
e.g. : conscience, subconscious, consciousness, conscientious

  1. SC as “SH”

“sc” is pronounced “sh” before “h” in certain foreign words
These words are often recently imported from German or Yiddish.

Before “h” in foreign words : schnapps, schmooze, schnauzer, fascism, schnitzel


To test yourself try this pronunciation quiz. Read the word and pronounce it aloud.
Use the rules above to help you. Is it pronounced as “s”, “sk” or “sh” ?

Escape s/ sk/ sh?   Answer: sk
Science   s/ sk/ sh?         Answer: s
Schnapps  s/ sk/ sh? Answer: sh
Schedule   s/ sk/ sh? Answer: sk (US) sh (UK)
Scenery   s/ sk/ sh? Answer: s
Scheme   s/ sk/ sh? Answer: sk
Discipline    s/ sk/ sh? Answer: s
Scan     s/ sk/ sh? Answer: sk
Fascist     s/ sk/ sh? Answer: sh
Conscience   s/ sk/ sh?

Answer: sh


Aiheet: ääntäminen, English, pronunciation, English language, quiz, English pronunciation, key rules

Rytkönen Claire

Kirjoittajana Rytkönen Claire

English language professional, Head of English at Galimatias


Galimatias on vuonna 1996 perustettu valmennusyritys, joka tarjoaa palveluja yrityksille, organisaatioille ja julkishallinnolle.

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