This article helps the teacher to teach the -s ending in the English language and also some great advice for the learner.
In English we use the 's' ending for a number of reasons, for example, plurals (more than one of something) and possession or ownership (add apostrophe 's, e.g. William's article is about pronouncing the English 's' ending), to name a few.
Some foreign students and learners of English as a second language have difficulty in pronouncing the different sounds. There are number of reasons for this, for example, they may not have the same sound in their own language (this is true in a number of Asian countries) or they might not be used to using the 's' sound as an ending to a word. Sometimes students don't pronounce the 's' ending at all, they might not be able to get the sound at all, or they use the wrong sound with the wrong ending. This article seeks to explain how to pronounce the English 's' ending.
There are 3 sounds to pronounce when using the 's' ending in English:
/iz/ - This sound is very similar to the English word 'is', if not the same. For example, the word 'oranges' sounds virtually the same to 'orange is' (e.g. the 'the orange is sweet').
/z/ - The /z/ sound is similar to the sound that you might make when imitating a bee or a wasp. The 'zzzzzz' sound is one long continuous buzz. This is a voiced sound and you can feel vibrations on your throat. Here you are using your voice to make the /z/ sound. You use your tongue to direct the airflow through a small gap between your tongue and your teeth by pushing the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth just behind your teeth.
/s/ - This sound is produced by the mouth in the same way as the /z/ is, but you don't use your voice. When pronouncing the /s/ sound you can't feel any vibrations on your throat. You just direct airflow the same way as when you are pronouncing the /z/ sound.
Here are the rules for pronouncing the English 's' ending:
/iz/ - If the word ends with the following sounds, -ch, -sh, -s, -x, and -z, then you use the /iz/ ending. For examples, sandwich (sandwiches), brush (brushes), kiss (kisses), fox (foxes), blitz (blitzes)
/s/ - If the word ends in a voiceless sound, i.e. not using the your voice: -p, -k, -f (sometimes spelt with a letter -v, e.g. scarves, but it has a -f sound),and -t. For example, cup (cups), pick (picks), cuff (cuffs), and start (starts).
/z/ - If the word ends in a voiced sound, i.e. using your voice: vowels, -b, -g, -j, -m, -n, -l, -r, -th, -v, -w. For example, bulb (bulbs), pig (pigs), calm (calms), moan (moans), mouth (mouths), drive (drives), window (windows).