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“Q” is the Second Least Common Letter


Interesting Facts in Easy English

Pre-Listening Vocabulary

  • digraph: two letters that make a single sound (e.g., ph)
  • successive: appearing one after the other
  • dread: to think about with fear or worry
  • loanword: a word from a foreign language that maintains its spelling and form in a new language
  • qi: life energy force in Chinese medicine

“Q” is the Second Least Common Letter

As you can guess, the letter Z is the least commonly used letter in the English alphabet. (In American English, this letter is “zee.”) The letter Q is the second least commonly used letter. In English words, Q is almost always followed by the letter U. The letters QU form a digraph. A digraph is a single sound made from two successive letters. When playing word games like SCRABBLE, many players dread the letter Q. Not only is it difficult to think of words that contain this used letter, it is almost always to have a tile with the letter U in order to play a Q. After all, most words that contain a Q without a U are like Iraq and Qantas, which are not permitted. Some loanwords from other languages are permitted in word games. In fact qi, also spelled c-h-i, is the most commonly played word in SCRABBLE tournaments.

Comprehension Questions

  1. What is QU an example of?
  2. Why does the report mention the letter Z?
  3. What is the most commonly played word in SCRABBLE tournaments?

Discussion Questions: Do you enjoy playing word games like SCRABBLE? What words do you know that contain the letters Z and Q?

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