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Pronunciation of Plural Endings

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发表于 2014-6-29 14:20:37 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
et’s face it—English pronunciation is difficult! Where some languages have only 5 vowel sounds, English has 26. Some languages have a limited set of consonant sounds, but English has tricky combinations like /th/. (Note: When we write sounds, we enclose them in slashes / /). And don’t even get me started on diphthongs (vowel-consonant combos like /ow/). There is a lot for students of English to learn!
On top of all the vowel and consonant sounds, students need to learn the pronunciation of endings that change according to the last sound of the word. For example, the past tense ending -ed can be pronounced as /t/, /d/, or /ɪd/ depending on the last letter of the verb. The case I’ll deal with today involves plural endings. I’ll use the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) in this post. Listen to the audio examples at the end of this article for pronunciation practice. But if you’re still confused by the IPA symbols, leave me a comment below and I’ll give you some more examples.
Whether you’re a teacher, a parent, or a student, I hope this blog post will help you with the pronunciation of plural endings!
1. Pronounce the plural ending as /s/ following voiceless consonants.
Voiceless (also called soft or unvoiced) consonants refer to letters that don’t make your vocal cords vibrate. If you put your hand to your throat when you pronounce these sounds, you won’t feel a vibration. These sounds are all soft like a whisper. Voiceless consonants in English include: /f/, /k/, /p/, /t/, and /θ/ (the voiceless /th/ sound). For these sounds, the plural ending is pronounced with the voiceless sound /s/. The reason for this is that it is natural (i.e., easier to pronounce) for a voiceless sound to follow another voiceless sound.
2. Pronounce the plural ending as /z/ following voiced sounds.
Voiced (also called loud) sounds refer to letters that make your vocal cords vibrate. If you put your hand to your throat when you pronounce these sounds, you will feel a vibration. These sounds are all loud—you can hear the noise they make. Voiced consonants in English include: /b/, /d/, /g/, /j/, /l/, /m/, /n/, /ŋ/ (the “ing” sound), /ð/ (the voiced /th/ sound), /r/, /v/, /w/, and any vowel sound. For these sounds, the plural ending is pronounced with the voiced sound /z/. The reason for this is that it is natural (i.e., easier to pronounce) for a voiced sound to follow another voiced sound.
3. Pronounce the plural ending as /ɪz/ following similar-sounding consonants.
When /s/ or /z/ is preceded by a similar-sounding consonant (i.e., a sound that is very close to the mouth shape and vocal cord shape of the sounds /s/ or /z/), the plural ending is pronounced with the syllable /ɪz/ (also written as /ez/—the same sound as the word “is”). These similar-sounding consonants, both voiced and voiceless, include: /tʃ/ (also written as /ch/, as in the final sound in “watch”), /dʒ/ (as in the final sound in “bridge”), /ʒ/ (as in the final sound in “garage”), /ʃ/ (also written as /sh/, as in the final sound in “wash”), /s/, and /z/. The reason we add a whole extra syllable, including a vowel sound, is because it would be impossible to follow one of these sounds with just an /s/ or a /z/. Imagine trying to say “buss” instead of “buses”, or “watchs” instead of “watches”!
4. Practice
Let’s practice with the words from our lesson of the week, Plurals, in the Phonics Cafe section. If you’re a parent or a teacher, play this audio for your young learners and have them repeat the words. If you’re a student (or a teacher assigning this for homework), play the audio and repeat the words until you’re comfortable with the pronunciation of English plural endings.
A) Pronounce the plural ending as /s/ following voiceless sounds.

B)  Pronounce the plural ending as /z/ following voiced sounds.

C)  Pronounce the plural ending as /ɪz/ following similar-sounding consonants.

(Note: The lesson on our site writes the sound /ɪz/ as /ez/. Some people do this if they don’t have access to an IPA chart. For this post, I used http://ipa.typeit.org.)
Find this lesson in the Phonics Cafe – Book 3. Sprout English’s Phonics Cafe section includes over 50 pronunciation, printing, writing, and spelling lessons and worksheets.

 楼主| 发表于 2014-6-29 14:21:27 | 显示全部楼层
发表于 2014-11-27 09:18:29 | 显示全部楼层
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