The sound /ʃ/ voiced, alveo-palatal, fricative consonant




  • “sh” – shoe, push
  • “ss” (+ “u” or “I”) – pressure, mission
  • “ch” – champagne, machine
  • “ti” – patience, station
  • “ce” (not common)– ocean, groceries 
  • “s” (not common) – sugar, sure

The sound /ʃ/ can be in these consonant clusters:
  • Beginning of a Syllable
/ʃr/ (“shr”) - shrink
  • End of a Syllable
/rʃ/ (“rsh”) - harsh
/lʃ/ (“lsh”) - Welsh
/ʃt/ (“shed”) - finished

Grammar Tip:

The sound /ʃ/ is present in the suffixes –tion and -ssion. These suffixes may turn a verb into a noun if the verb ends in /t/ or /s/.
  • create --> creation
  • direct --> direction
  • educate --> education
  • express --> expression
  • discuss --> discussion
Compare /ʃ/ and /s/:

These are both voiceless fricative consonants pronounced near the alveolar ridge. However, /ʃ/ is an alveo-palatal fricative and /s/ is an alveolar fricative. When you pronounce /s/, your tongue is slightly farther forward than when you pronounce /ʃ/.
You can hear the difference between /ʃ/ and /s/ in these words.
1. A. shine, B. sign
2. A. shame, B. same
3. A. plush, B. plus
4. A. cashed, B. cast
5. A. meshing, B. messing 
6. A. furnishes, B. furnaces

Now compare /ʃ/ and /tʃ/:

These are both voiceless alveo-palatal consonants. However, /tʃ/ is an affricate while /ʃ/ is a fricative. When you pronounce /tʃ/, the air in your mouth should stop (like a /t/) before it is released (like a /ʃ/).

You can hear the difference between /ʃ/ and /tʃ/ in these words.
1. A. sheep, B. cheap
2. A. share, B. chair
3. A. bash, B. batch
4. A. Porsches, B. porches
5. A. washed, B. watched
6. A. dishes, B. ditches
Listen and repeat these words:
1. shape
2. shine
3. shell
4. shabby
5. shrimp
6. shrewd
7. brush
8. cash
9. fish
10. harsh
11. rushed
12. publish
13. foolish
14. ocean
15. machine
16. portion
17. mention
18. addiction
19. assumption
20. sensation

Now, practice /ʃ/ in sentences. Say the words first, then the sentences.
1. technicians – rushed - machine
The technicians rushed to repair the machine.
2. she – groceries* – cash
She paid for the groceries with cash.
3. essential – share – information
It’s essential that we share this information with the public
4. invitation – mention – location
The invitation didn’t mention the location of the party.
5. chef – selection – dishes
The chef prepared a selection of dishes for us to try.
6. wash – shampoo – conditioner
I always wash my hair with shampoo and conditioner

(*In some varieties of American English, "groceries" may be pronounced with /s/.)

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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