Plural forms ?/span> phonetic

 

Q:

Hello,

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/.

Claudia Oliveira
[email protected]
Posted 02 August 2002
A:
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:

a.

after s?sounds: classes, glasses, kisses, horses, places, sentences, faces, offices

b.

after z?sounds: sizes, exercises, roses, noises, quizzes

c.

after sh?sounds: dishes, bushes, wishes

d.

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).

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