While not as ubiquitous as some of the other Spanish digraphs, the Spanish digraph Qu is truly important. You can’t really even ask “What?” in Spanish without pulling it out, nor can you express familial love and so much more! Plus, Spanish shares this digraph with several other languages, including English, often for the same phoneme or sound. Curious to know more about this digraph? Read on. Or, check out the free Spanish digraph Qu worksheet at the bottom of the post.
What’s a Digraph?
Digraphs are common in many languages, so you likely use them in your native tongue, too. There are actually two types of digraphs, but the most common ones are called heterogeneous digraphs. These digraphs consist of two different letters that, when they run around together, make a new sound they wouldn’t make if they were by themselves. Here are some examples in English.
- qu, as in the words queen and quaint
- ch, as in the words cheese and churlish
- sh, as in the words shoo and shy
You’ll notice that qu is also a digraph in English. In fact, it’s always a digraph in English because the combination of the letter Q with the letter U only exists in words English “borrowed” from other languages, often French (and, by extension, Latin, long story).
In Spanish, however, the digraph Qu goes before the letter E or the letter I to form a /k/ sound. The history of this digraph is a bit complicated and also relates to Latin. But, for our purposes, the key is that, with very few exceptions (again, exceptions borrowed into Spanish), you’ll also see the letter Q with U, meaning as a digraph, in Spanish.
We’ll dedicate a full post to digraphs in the future, but in the meantime, here is the list of the five Spanish digraphs. If you see a link, you can download a free Spanish digraph worksheet for that digraph, too!
“Officially,” there are 27 letters in the Spanish alphabet. “Qu,” though, has never been a Spanish letter and is often referred to as either el dígrafo qu or la qu.
As mentioned above, while the letters Q and U almost always appear together in the Spanish language, when followed by either the letter I or the letter E, the U is not pronounced. For example:
- que, as in que or querer – the sound approximating KEH in English
- qui, as in quien or quitar – the sound KEY in English
Worksheet Learning Focus
One of the key digraph Qu errors that students, learners, and even many native speakers make is hypercapitalization or hypercorrection. The capital digraph is Qu, and the lowercase is qu. So, this Spanish digraph Qu worksheet supplies practice with these skills and more.
- Identifying capital Qu
- Identifying lowercase qu
- Forming capital Qu
- Forming lowercase qu
- Familiarization with “qu” vocabulary and a common infinitive
In this two-page Spanish Digraph Qu Worksheet, you’ll find PK-1st grade oriented activities involving «la qu», such as practicing formation of capital letters (mayúsculas) and lowercase letters (minúsculas) and being introduced to “qu” vocabulary. Because of the age group targeted, directions are scaffolded in English and Spanish or use English/Spanish cognates.
Newsletter subscribers can download all five Spanish digraphs as one free bilingual or all-Spanish file in the email-Subscriber’s Library.
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Ideas for Use
Students in preschool and kindergarten will likely benefit most from this worksheet, but this free Spanish Digraph Qu Worksheet is great for any student who needs a little extra digraph and Spanish vocabulary practice.