I would like to know the basic rule for the formation of the plural nouns.
That is, when I have to pronounce the ending /s/ like /z/, /s/ or /iz/.
Posted 02 August 2002
The regular plural endings of nouns have three distinct pronunciations,
as you have noted. They can be classified as followed:
1. The -s plural ending is pronounced like /z/ after voiced
sounds. This means that if the ending of the noun is voiced ?if you can
feel your larynx vibrate at the end of the noun you pronounce ?it has
the /z/ sound. Some examples are: dads, moms, boys, girls, rooms, dogs,
schools, days, years, lives.
2. The -s plural ending is pronounced like /s/ after voiceless
sounds. This means that if the ending of the noun is not voiced ?nbsp;
if you cannot feel your larynx vibrate at the end of the noun ?nbsp;
it has the /s/ sound. Some examples are: books, desks, cats, cups,
groups, students, tops, backs.
3. The -s plural ending is pronounced with an additional syllable
?similar to ?b>iz??after several different noun endings, both
voiced and voiceless:
after “s?sounds: classes, glasses, kisses,
horses, places, sentences, faces, offices
after “z?sounds: sizes, exercises, roses, noises,
after “sh?sounds: dishes, bushes, wishes
after “ch?sounds: matches, sandwiches, watches
With each of these differentiated
groups, the pronunciation of the plurals makes sense:
In the first, as you pronounce that last voiced sound, it is natural
to continue with another voiced sound, the /z/ sound. In the second,
as you pronounce that last voiceless sound, it is natural to continue
with another voiceless sound, the /s/ sound. And in the last, it is
almost impossible to pronounce the final –s, -z, -sh, -ch, or -ge/-dge
sounds without adding that extra syllable.
This entry is based on information in Betty S. Azar, Basic English
Grammar, Second Edition (Prentice Hall Regents, 1995).