Sunday, December 27, 2009

Accent Reduction - pronouncing "s" endings

Third Person Singular “s” Endings
A Spelling and Pronunciation Guide

What is the Third person Singular

Simple present verbs (except for the verb “to be”) with the subjects of “he”, “she”, and “it” are formed by adding an “s” ending to the infinitive of the verb. The form of the verb used with these subjects is usually called the third person singular. The pronunciation of the “s” ending for third person singular verbs depends on the final sound of the verb before the “s” ending is added.

Spelling Rules for Adding “s” in the Third Person Singular

Before reviewing the pronunciation rules for third person singular verbs, it may be helpful to review how these verbs are spelled. For some verbs, a simple “s” or “es” is added to the infinitive. However, some verbs change their spelling when s is added in the third person singular.

Most verbs in English have a simple “s” ending for the third person singular form. Some examples of these are:

To stop: “he stops”
To end: “it ends”
To want: “she wants”

The exceptions to this rule are listed below:

Verbs Ending in y
For verbs the ending in “y”, where the “y” is preceded by a vowel, the third person singular is formed by simply adding an “s” to the end of the infinitive. Some examples are:

To Pay: “he pays”
To Buy: “she buys”
To Enjoy” “it enjoys”

When the “y” is preceded by a consonant, however, the “y” is changed to “i” and “es” is added to the end. Here are some examples of these:

To Ferry: “it ferries”
To Rely: “he relies”
To Study: “she studies”

Verbs Ending in o
When a verb ends in o, the third person singular is formed by adding “es” to the end. Some examples are:

To go: “it goes”
To do: “he does”

Verbs ending in ch, s, sh, x or z (sibilant)
When a verb ends in ch, s, sh, x or z, the third person singular is formed by adding “es” to the end. Some examples are:

To watch: “he watches”
To kiss: “she kisses”
To wish: “he wishes”
To tax: “it taxes”
To buzz: “it buzzes”

Pronunciation rules for “s” endings in the third person singular

There are three ways to pronounce “s” endings for third person singular verbs. The pronunciation depends on the final sound of the verb before the “s” ending is added. The three pronunciations are below:

“iz” sound

If the simple form of the verb has a sibilant ending, such as “ch”, “s”, “sh”, ’x” or “z”, then “es” is pronounced as “iz” with an extra syllable added to the base verb.


“s” sound
If the simple form of the verb ends with the voiceless sounds of “p”, “t”, “k”, “f” or “th” then “s” and “es” are pronounced as “s” with no extra syllable.


“z” sound:
If the simple form of the verb ends with any other consonant or vowel sound, then the “s” and “es” are pronounced as “z” with no extra syllable.


As with all other areas of your ESL studies, practice is essential. After you have reviewed these rules and practiced them, try taking this third person singular pronunciation quiz.
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Friday, December 11, 2009

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