Plural of nouns: Pronunciation.

Hi there!

I need to clasify plural words (ending in -s) into three categories, depending on the way the final -s is pronounced:
I can make the difference (very clearly) when it is pronounced /iz/ as in “chances”, but I´m completely unable to identify the difference between /s/ and /z/ so… is there any rule?? How can I differenciate them without hearing them?

Thanks for your help in advance.


I have found these guidelines for you and will read the examples out:

Pronunciation of Final /-s/ and /-es/

  1. The /s/ at the end of a word preceded by a voiced sound is pronounced /z/.

  2. The /s/ at the end of a word preceded by a voiceless sound is pronounced /s/.

Voiced Sounds
a, e, i, o, u b d g j l m
n r v w x y *z

Voiceless Sounds
c f h k p
q *s t *ch *sh
*see below

Try these words. Determine if the /s/ at the end of these words sounds like /z/ or /s/.

  1. downpours
  2. reservations
  3. payments
  4. symptoms
  5. heights
  6. slayings
  7. statistics
  8. struggles
  9. musicians
  10. arrives
  11. casinos
  12. attends
  13. pickups
  14. incorporates
  15. claims
  16. please

*Additionally, when the /-es/ comes after the /s/, /z/, and the following combinations, /sh/, /ch/, /ss/, /ge/, and /dge/, the pronunciation of the last syllable is /əz/. Try these examples:

  1. judges
  2. stages
  3. watches
  4. classes
  5. washes

Myra M. Medina, Miami Dade College