The “-s” ending is used to mark plural nouns, possessive nouns, and present tense 3rd person singular verbs. The “-s” ending is pronounced /s/ after most voiceless consonants (/p/, /t/, /k/, /f/, /θ/).
These sounds are both alveolar, fricative consonants. However, /s/ is a voiceless consonant and /z/ is a voiced consonant. If you are pronouncing /s/, your vocal cords should not vibrate. At the end of a word, the vowel before /s/ will be shorter than the vowel before /z/.
You can hear the difference between /s/ and /z/ in these words.
1. A. sip, B. zip 2. A. sue, B. zoo 3. A. bus, B. buzz 4. A. loose, B. lose 5. A. pierce, B. peers 6. A. doses, B. dozes
These are both voiceless, fricative consonants. However, /s/ is an alveolar fricative and /ʃ/ is an alveo-palatal fricative. When you pronounce /s/, your tongue is slightly farther forward than when you pronounce /ʃ/.
You can hear the difference between /s/ and /ʃ/ in these words.
1. A. sip, B. ship 2. A. sowed, B. showed 3. A. mass, B. mash 4. A. rust, B. rushed 5. A. leases, B. leashes 6. A. parcel, B. partial
Listen and repeat these words:
1. south 2. scope 3. sleep 4. space 5. street 6. spring 7. smile 8. guess 9. desk 10. last
Now, practice /s/ in sentences. Say the words first, then the sentences.
1. sent – message – person I sent the message to the wrong person. 2. cross – street – intersection You should cross the street at the intersection. 3. missed – last – asleep I missed your call last night because I was asleep. 4. astronomers – study – space Astronomers study outer space. 5. looks – outside – snowy The weather outside looks snowy. 6. class – meets - six (x = /ks/) Our class meets at six o'clock.
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