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  1. #1
    Mad-ox's Avatar
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    Smile Pronunciation of verbs (3rd person singular) ending in -s

    Hello everybody,

    I am looking for pronunciation rules regarding the -s ending of the verbs in the 3rd person singular: for example: sees, listens, asks, lives, sleeps, etc I know that there are three ways of pronunciation:
    It can be pronunced:

    [s].................................................. .......
    [z].................................................. .......
    [iz] for example: watches, washes.

    So, when do we pronunce [s] and when [z]? What is the rule?

    Thank you in advance
    Madox

  2. #2
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of verbs (3rd person singular) ending in -s

    /s/ after unvoiced consonants except /s, ʃ, ʧ/: /kIks, pʊts, kɒfs/

    /z/ after voiced consonants except /z,ʒ, ʤ/, vowels and diphthongs: /hʌgz, siːz, leIz/

    /Iz/(or/əz/) after /s, z, ʃ, ʒ, ʧ/ and /ʤ/: /bɒksIz, bʌzIz, wɒIIz ruːʒIz, kʧIz, ʤʌʤIz/
    Last edited by 5jj; 09-Jan-2011 at 10:34.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of verbs (3rd person singular) ending in -s

    For those who can't read IPA:

    /s/ (as in hiss) after unvoiced consonants: kicks, puts, coughs


    /z/ (as in buzz) after voiced consonants: hugs, sees, lays

    but

    /Iz/(or/əz/) after sibilants (the underlined sounds in: sad, zoo, ship, chip, judge, measure): boxes, buzzes, washes, rouges, catches, judges.

  4. #4
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of verbs (3rd person singular) ending in -s

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    /z/ after voiced consonants except /z,ʒ, ʤ/, vowels and diphthongs: /hʌgz, siːz, leIz/
    But that leaves out "listens" and all consonantal sonorants... Is there a rule here? I don't think we have a /z/ in "listens" or in "pills".

  5. #5
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of verbs (3rd person singular) ending in -s

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    But that leaves out "listens" and all consonantal sonorants... Is there a rule here? I don't think we have a /z/ in "listens" or in "pills".
    I do, and so do John Wells in his Longman Pronunciation Dictionary and Peter Roach et al in their Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary.

    What do you think we have?

  6. #6
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of verbs (3rd person singular) ending in -s

    Having pronounced "pills" several times, I see that "pill[z]" is good, but "pill[s]" doesn't sound wrong to me either. "Listen[z]" sounds strange to me. I say "listen[s]".

    I think these samples have a voiceless [s]:
    Pronunciation of pills - how to pronounce pills correctly.
    Pronunciation of listens - how to pronounce listens correctly.

  7. #7
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of verbs (3rd person singular) ending in -s

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    The speaker there certainly seems to close with /s/, but I think he starts with /z/. The devoicing at the end may be just because the word is spoken in isolation.

    Try saying:
    Ls (as in pill has two Ls) and else, walls/waltz.
    pens/pence, wins/wince, darns/dance


    Are they the same for you?

  8. #8
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of verbs (3rd person singular) ending in -s

    You're right, they're not the same. But I'm not sure what the difference is, since "pills" and "zeal" have different sounds in my pronunciation too. Maybe the voicing in "pills" is very weak simply?

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of verbs (3rd person singular) ending in -s

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    Maybe the voicing in "pills" is very weak simply?
    I think it depends on the sound following.

    In: I take six pills in the morning, my /z/ is fully voiced, though shorter than the sound in zeal;
    in I take six pills to stop the pain, my /z/ is at least partly devoiced.

    I think that my /z/ is fully voiced before all voiced consonants, but I'd need a spectogram to be sure.

  10. #10
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of verbs (3rd person singular) ending in -s

    Thanks! This is a very interesting discovery to me. I was always told that English didn't have the feature of devoicing voiced consonants word-finally (which is present in Polish - in isolated words). But it seems it happens in some cases. In Polish, we also do not devoice our consonants when a vowel follows.

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