What is the Pronunciation RULE for "X"?

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Several of our clients have asked us the pronunciation rule for "X." Some make the mistake of pronouncing it as "S." Many do not realize that "X" is a combination or cluster of two sounds; "K" and "S," as in "six" (pronounced as "sicks"). When it is at the end of the word, we pronounce it like "ks," as in "fax", "mix," or even "next." However, in some circumstances, it is pronounced as "GZ" as in "exam" (pronounced as "egg-zam"). So, what is the rule? When is it pronounced as "KS" and when as "GZ"? Let's look at "X" when it is in the middle of words.


When the "X" is followed by a consonant, it is usually pronounced as "KS."
Here are some examples:
extra exception excellent expect
extract excited experiment experience
exterminate exception exceed excel
excess exchange exclamation exclude
excavate excursion excuse exhale
expectorant expense expel expert
extreme expire explain explode
explore express expunge extrovert

When the "X" is followed by a vowel, it is usually pronounced as "GZ."
Here are some examples:
exist example executive exacerbate
exact exaggerate exude exalt
exam examination examine exit
exasperated exempt exonerate exorbitant
exotic exuberant exude

Exceptions: exercise execution

When there is a silent "H," we treat the word as if it were followed by a vowel: exhausted, exhibit, exhume, and exhort , but not "exhale."

Remember; "X" is a consonant cluster which means you must pronounce two consonants. It will be either "KS" or "GZ."

For more RULES to help you pronounce American English, visit us at www.eslrules.com.