June 5, 2016

Comparing Sounds S & Z in English

S is an easy sound to make, as it sounds like a snake hissing. Z, on the other hand sounds like a buzz. While both sounds can be sustained, Z has a vibration (similar to v) that sets it apart. 

Let's learn more about these two sounds, and the unique quality of s as z at the ends of words. 

In this first video tutorial, Rachel shows us how to make these sounds and where the tongue and lips should be for creating the correct sounds. She also walks us through pronouncing these sounds in a few sentences. (To see Rachel teach the sounds J and Z, see this post.

Another word pair that confuses in sound, meaning and usages is advice and advise. Check out this post to learn more.

In the second video, we improve our listening comprehension of s sounds at the end of words. Often when words are made plural (adding s or es to the end), the sound of s may change from s to z or iz (the word is). Can you hear the differences in this video below? 

In this last video, Emma from EngVid, shows us how to pronounce s a the end of words (contractions, possessives, plural nouns and verbs in the present tense). She not only teaches us how to pronounce the sounds (focusing on getting the z sound clear), but tests our listening comprehension with s sounds at the end of words. She will pronounce a word with an s ending, asking watchers to guess if the ending s sounds like an s, a z, or an iz sound. This will help you to improve your listening comprehension in English. She will also help you understand when the ending s sound will sound like s, z or is (iz). 

(Note, Emma refers to the letter z as zed and not zee. While Americans would not refer to z as zed, probably Emma is British, but the lesson also applies to the American accent as well.) 

Jennifer Kumar, author of this post, is a native American English speaker working with professionals in India working on virtual teams with Americans. Learn more about how we can help you or contact us for more information today. 

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