The sound /z/ voiced, alveolar fricative




  • "z" - zip, zoo
  • "zz" - sizzle, buzzer
  • "ze" - maze, realize
  • "s" - bags, losing
  • "se" - these, rise
  • "es" - loves, clothes


The sound /z/ can be in these clusters.
  • Beginning of a Syllable
  • End of a Syllable
/zd/ ("sed") - teased
/gz/ ("gs") - begs
/bz/ ("bs"/"bes") - rubs, robes
/rbz/ ("rbs") - barbs
/dz/ ("ds" / "des") - lids, rides
/ldz/ ("lds") - holds
/rdz/ ("rds") - cards
/vz/("ves") - loves
/ðz/ ("ths" / "thes") - cloths, breathes
/rz/ ("rs"/"res") - bars, tires
/mz/ ("ms"/"mes"/"mbs") - seems, homes, climbs
/lmz/ ("lms") - calms
/rmz/ ("rms") - harms
/nz/("ns" / "nes") - means, phones
/lnz/ ("lns") - kilns
/rnz/ ("rns") - horns
/ŋz/("ngs") - rings

Grammar Tip: 

The "-s" ending is used to mark plural nouns, possessive nouns, and present tense 3rd person singular verbs. The "-s" ending is pronounced /z/ after a vowel or voiced consonant.
  • Plural nouns: bags, days
  • Possessive nouns: John's book, Chicago's river
  • 3rd person singular verbs: moves, tries
Compare /z/ with /s/:

These sounds are both alveolar, fricative consonants. However, /z/ is a voiced consonant and /s/ is a voiceless consonant. If you are pronouncing /z/, your vocal cords should vibrate. At the end of a word, the vowel before /z/ will be longer than the vowel before /s/.

You can hear the difference between /z/ and /s/ in these words.
1. A. zeal, B. seal
2. A. lies, B. lice
3. A. falls, B. false
4. A. scares, B. scarce
5. A. raising, B. racing
6. A. disease, B. decease

Now, compare /z/ with /dʒ/:

These are both voiced alveolar consonants. However, /z/ is a fricative and /dʒ/ is an affricate. If you are pronouncing /dʒ/, the air in your mouth should stop before it is released (creating a “harder” sound).

You can hear the difference between /z/ and /dʒ/ in these words.
1. A. zest, B. jest
2. A. raise, B. rage
3. A. buzz, B. budge
4. A. zoos, B. juice
5. A. ways, B. wage
6. A. chains, B. change
Listen and repeat these words:
1. zone
2. zoom
3. zipper
4. zombie
5. please
6. as
7. tries
8. jobs
9. begs
10. bores
11. bronze
12. crazy
13. easy
14. resume
15. reason
16. music
17. because
18. criticize
19. amazing
20. hazardous

Now, practice /z/ in sentences. Say the words first, then the sentences.
1. size - shoes - does 
What size of shoes does he wear?
2. kids - visit - zoo 
The kids want to visit the zoo.
3. composer - pieces - music
That composer wrote many famous pieces of music.
4. friend's - pleasant - surprise 
My friend's arrival was a pleasant surprise.
5. checkers - always - lose
If I play checkers with my sister, I always lose.
6. viruses - cause - diseases 
Viruses can cause different diseases.

To practice with different varieties of English, choose another native English speaker by clicking one of the links below:

Consonants /d/ and /g/

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