English words with Q not followed by U, with pronunciation

by Jakub Marian

Tip: See my list of the Most Common Mistakes in English. It will teach you how to avoid mis­takes with com­mas, pre­pos­i­tions, ir­reg­u­lar verbs, and much more (PDF Version).

There are only three English words which contain a Q not followed by U that are not borrowed from another language:

  • qwerty /ˈkwɜrti/ (US), /ˈkwɜːti/ (UK) is the standard English keyboard layout. The name comes from the letters Q, W, E, R, T, Y located at the top left side of the layout.
  • tranq /træŋk/ is a slang term for a tranquillizer.
  • qiana /kiˈɑːnə/ is a type of nylon fibre.

Other relatively common examples of such words are the following borrowed words:

  • niqab /nɪˈkɑːb/ and burqa /ˈbɜːrkə/ (US), /ˈbʊəkə/ or /ˈbɜːkə/ (UK) are types of female clothing worn in some Muslim countries. “Burqa” is often spelled also “burka” or “burkha”.
  • qi /tʃiː/ (notice the pronunciation), sometimes spelled also “chi” or “ki”, is a psychic energy in Chinese culture.
  • sheqel /ˈʃɛkəl/, spelled also “shekel”, is a currency used in Israel.

The only other common examples are proper names:

  • Iraq /ɪˈræk/ or /ɪˈrɑːk/ and Qatar /ˈkɑːtɑːr/ or /kəˈtɑːr/ (US, in the UK pronounced without the final “r”) are names of countries.
  • Compaq /ˈkɑːmˌpæk/ (US), /ˈkɒmˌpæk/ (UK) is a computer company later acquired by Hewlett-Packard.
  • Nasdaq or, more commonly, NASDAQ /ˈnæzdæk/ is an American stock market.
  • Qantas /ˈkwɒntəs/ is an Australian airline.

By the way, if you haven’t read my guide on how to avoid the most common mistakes in English, make sure to check it out; it deals with similar topics.

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