Accent Reduction: 3 Easy Rules for Pronouncing Final -S (Part 2)
One accent reduction method involves 3 easy rules for pronouncing final -s. Pronouncing “s” in the final position of words is a common challenge to speakers of English as a non-native language. One particular challenge is understanding when to add an extra syllable to the final -s. Keep reading if you find it difficult to know when to do this. Here are easy tips to increase your American accent awareness and pronunciation.
When to Add an Extra Syllable to -S
Knowing when to add an extra syllable to the final -s prevents communication blocks. When you know this rule, your American English listener can easily process what you’re saying, and add information to the exchange or ask follow up questions. You either add an extra syllable or not. Here’s how you know whether to add an extra syllable.
Add an Extra Syllable in these Circumstances
The only time you add an extra syllable to the final -s at the end of words is when the words end in the following phonemes: /s/, /z/, /ʃ/, /ʧ/, /ӡ/, and /ʤ/. The extra syllable is pronounced as “ez” or /əz/. For example, pronounce the following words that end in “s” as indicated below. Notice that each example illustrates a different grammatical structure including plural -s, possessive -s, and third person singular -s.
- Class-/clæsəz/ (plural noun)
- Maze-/mezəz/ (plural noun)
- Cruises-/kruzəz/ (plural noun or third person singular verb) *Notice that “s” is pronounced as /z/ even though it is spelled as “s.”
- Washes-/waʃəz/ (third person singular verb)
- Watches-/waʧəz/ (third person singular verb)
- Massages-/məsaʒəz/ (plural noun or third person singular verb)
- Marge’s-/marʤəz/ (possessive proper noun)
Summary of Pronouncing -S
The final -s spelling is pronounced differently depending on its preceding phonemes. Final -s is utilized in nouns, verbs, possessive pronouns, plural nouns, possessive proper nouns, and third person singular verbs. The rule for pronouncing the final -s as voiced or voiceless (as /s/ versus /z/) in those grammatical structures are based on whether the preceding phonemes in the word are voiced or voiceless. The rule or adding an extra syllable depends on the preceding phonemes as well.
The aforementioned stated rules and examples clearly outline the situations in which you pronounce the final -s as voiced or voiceless. Knowing these rules will definitely make a positive impact on your daily communication with others who speak the American English accent. Incorporating these rules into your accent program and practice will leave a lasting effect and will ultimately prove to maximize your confidence with the American English accent.
To you mastering your final -s pronunciation,
Source: Marjorie Feinstein-Whittaker & Lynda Katz-Wilner. Rules for Using Linguistic Elements of Speech. Owings Mills: Successfully Speaking, 2006, 2007, 2nd Edition. Print.