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Tips for Clear Confident Pronunciation: Plural Endings

The key to mastering clear, articulate speech often lies in the details. One pronunciation detail that is often tricky is how to pronounce the plural “s” ending. This is because it can be pronounced three different ways. While these differences may be difficult to master, there are rules that can help you learn to use which pronunciation in which word. While this articulation detail can be particularly difficult for non-native English speakers, dropping word endings is a common pronunciation pitfall for native speakers as well. So whether you’re trying to master the American English accent or simply want to brush up on your clarity to project professionalism and confidence, read on!

What are the different pronunciations of the plural “s”?

The three pronunciations for “-s” endings are:

  • /s/        a “s” sound, such as in the word miss
  • /z/        a “z” sound, such as in the word buzz
  • /ǝz/      a separate syllable, which sounds much like the word “is”

How do I know when to use which sound?

When pronouncing the plural “s”, the pronunciation depends on the sounds in the word that come directly before the “-s”. We’ll go through each of the three pronunciations below:

The plural is pronounced with an “s” sound (like in the word “miss”) when the root word ends in any of the following sounds:

  • /t/ as in “cat
  • /k/ as in “lake
  • /p/ as in “cap
  • voiceless /th/ as in “path

The plural is pronounced with a “z” sound (like in the word “buzz”) when the root word ends in any of the following sounds:

  • /d/ as in “head
  • /g/ as in “bag
  • /b/ as in “crab
  • /v/ as in “cave
  • /n/ as in “pin
  • /m/ as in “home
  • /ng/ as in “ring
  • /j/ as in “badge
  • /r/ as in “car
  • /l/ as in “bill
  • any vowel sound

Finally, the plural is pronounced with an “iz” sound, a separate syllable, which sounds much like the word “is”, after the following sounds:

  • /s/ as in “class
  • /zh/ as in “garage
  • /sh/ as in “bush
  • /ch/ as in “patch

Want to learn more great strategies for improving your American English accent? Join us June 24th in NYC for our brand-new workshop, Accent Success: Master the 5 Foundations of Accent Reduction! Click here for details and registration!

If you are looking to polish your communication skills be sure to pick up a free copy of my e-book “Communicate with Clarity and Confidence!” by subscribing to our newsletter community on our website. For additional information call us at 212-308-7725 or send us an e-mail at jayne@corporatespeechsolutions.com to learn more. I’d be more than happy to answer any questions you might have!

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