Why Does the Letter Q Almost Always Go with U?

By Casey Chan on at

The history of why Q is almost always followed by U is fascinating, and dates back to when the Normans invaded England in 1066. Before that, English didn’t even have a Q; it used “cw” to replicate the sound. After the invasion, though, the spelling of English was changed to match the French ways: “cw” was replaced with “qu”.

So can we blame it on the French? Not exactly, because they got that spelling from the Romans ... who actually got it from the Etruscans, who actually got it from the Phoenicians.

Following the trail of language is always so much fun in a brain-tickling way. Watch Arika Okrent explain the history of Q and U in the video below.