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Words using ‘qu’ and ‘q’

Letter 'Q' spelling rules

In the English language q is almost always followed by the letter u. Most words that go against this rule originate from other languages such as Hebrew, Chinese or Arabic. One example is 'burqa' which comes from the Arabic word 'burqu'.

History of 'Qu'

So why is 'q' typically followed by 'u' in the English language?

'Qu' is a commonly used Latin digraph to represent the sound /kw/. This combination is thus commonly found in Latin-based languages such as French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian. 'Qu' was introduced into Modern English to replace 'cw' used in Old English. In many instances this was a result of the Norman Conquest, whereby French-speaking scribes applied French spelling rules to the English language. For example, ‘quell’ was originally spelt in Old English as 'cwellan'.