How to pronounce sch and ch

The letters ch have two possible pronunciations:


to laugh (“hard” pronunciation)


to smoke (“hard” pronunciation)

die Tochter

the daughter (“hard” pronunciation)

die Kirche

the church (“soft” pronunciation)

The letters sch are pronounced like an English “sh”:

der Schrank

the cupboard

der Schnee

the snow

die Kirsche

the cherry


to sleep


  • It is sometimes difficult to tell whether a word is spelled with -ch- or -sch-. In these cases, it can be helpful to isolate the end of the syllable, especially when the ending -chen is added to refer to a smaller version of something. In such cases, we use the “ch” sound, not the “sh” sound. This is how to pronounce words that end in -s and have then had -chen added:

der Hase → das Häschen

the hare → the young hare

das Haus → das Häuschen

the house → the cottage

ein bisschen

a bit

  • The word Ski (skiing) is an exception, as it comes from Norwegian and is pronounced like the English word “she”.

der Ski, die Skier

the ski, the skis

Ski fahren

to go skiing

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