Listen to the following three words. Do you notice any differences in the sound of the final -s?
If you listened carefully, you may have noticed that each word has a different final -s sound. That’s because in English, there are three different ways to pronounce the final -s sound.
Listen to the following sets of words and see if you can identify what the final sound is for each set. Then try to find a rule that explains how the final -s sound is pronounced for each set:
- Group 1
appreciatesClick here to see the ruleIf a word ends in a voiceless sound, then the -s ending will sound like /s/. Make sure that your vocal cords are not vibrating by placing your hands on your throat. You shouldn’t feel any vibration when you pronounce /s/.
- Group 2
theirsClick here to see the ruleIf a word ends in a voiced sound, then the -s ending will sound like /z/. Make sure that your vocal cords are vibrating by placing your hands on your throat. You should feel vibration when you pronounce /z/.
- Group 3
washesClick here to see the ruleIf a word ends in a hissing or buzzing sounds /s/, /z/, /t͡ʃ/, /d͡ʒ/, /ʃ/, or /ʒ/, then the -s ending will sound like /əz/. Note that this is the only -s ending that adds an extra syllable.
For the -s endings to be intelligible, it is most important to know when to add an extra syllable. Look at the following words. Which ones should add an extra syllable due to the -s ending? If you need help, listen to the word.