Pronunciation of the morpheme “-s”

From Teflpedia

Sibilant

ɪz

horses /hɔːrsɪz/

Voiced

z

things /θɪŋz/

Voiceless

s

weeks /wiːks/

IPA vowels
æ ɑː
trap father - start
e
dress face square
ɪ ɪə
kit fleece near
ɒ əʊ ɔː
lot goat taught
ʊ ʊə
foot goose mature
juː jʊə
cute cure
ʌ ə ɜː
strut comma nurse
ɔɪ
price mouth choice

The morpheme “-s” is a sound (/s/, /z/ or /ɪz/) that is added at the end of some words. There are three different morphemes that add “s”: plural, third person singular of verbs and genitive. The three morphemes share pronunciation rules, and plural and third person share spelling rules.

The plural morpheme[edit]

Examples:

  • Written as “s” and pronounced as /s/: groups, lots, proofs, weeks
  • Written as “s” and pronounced as /z/: dogs, friends, jobs, shoes
  • Written as “s” and pronounced as /ɪz/: horses, judges, prizes
  • Written as “es” and pronounced as /z/: , companies, potatoes, tornadoes
  • Written as “es” and pronounced as /ɪz/: churches, classes, wishes

The third person singular morpheme[edit]

Examples:

  • Written as “s” and pronounced as /s/: gets, laughs, helps, thinks
  • Written as “s” and pronounced as /z/: brings, plays, seems, tells
  • Written as “s” and pronounced as /ɪz/: changes, increases, closes
  • Written as “es” and pronounced as /z/: studies, tries, vetoes
  • Written as “es” and pronounced as /ɪz/: focuses, pushes, reaches

The genitive morpheme[edit]

Examples:

  • Written as “’s” and pronounced as /s/: cat’s, Elizabeth’s, Joseph’s, Mike’s
  • Written as “’s” and pronounced as /z/: Barbara’s, dog’s, John’s, Mary’s
  • Written as “’s” and pronounced as /ɪz/: Boris’s, Marge’s, Rose’s, virus’s
  • Written as “’” and not pronounced (plurals): cats’, dogs’
  • Written as “’” and not pronounced (classical and Biblical names): Augustus’, Jesus’, Moses’

See also: Possessive apostrophe

Classification of sounds[edit]

IPA consonants
Normal sound: /b, d, f, g, h, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, v, w, z/
 ʃ  ŋ
show church sing
ʒ  j 
usual judge you
θ ð s
think that see

For the “-s” morpheme, sounds must be classified in voiced, unvoiced and sibilant

Voiced sounds[edit]

Description[edit]

First let’s identify some “voiced” sounds. Put your fingers on your throat and say the words dog, cow, open and agree. You should feel some vibration in your throat at the end of these words.

Enumeration[edit]

Voiced sounds can be described or memorized. For some people memorization is easier than description or deduction.

The voiced sounds in English are all vowels and /b/, /d/, /ð/, /dʒ/, /g/, /j/, /l/, /m/, /n/, /ŋ/, /r/, /v/, /w/, /z/ and /ʒ/.

Unvoiced[edit]

Description[edit]

Now some “unvoiced” sounds. Say book, night, push and reduce. You should feel no vibration in your throat at the end of these words.

Enumeration[edit]

Voiceless sounds can be described or memorized. For some people memorization is easier than description or deduction.

The voiceless sounds in English are /f/, /k/, /p/, /s/, /ʃ/, /t/, /tʃ/ and /θ/.

Sibilants[edit]

Sibilants are consonants that have a hissing sound.

English sibilants are /s/, /z/, /tʃ/, /dʒ/, /ʃ/ and /ʒ/.

Pronunciation of the morpheme “-s”[edit]

The ending sound of the base word determines the pronunciation of the morpheme “-s”.

  • /s/ for non-sibilant voiceless consonants /f/, /k/, /p/, /t/, and /θ/.
laughs, Mike’s, helps, gets, Elizabeth’s
  • /z/ for vowels and non-sibilant voiced consonants /b/, /d/, /ð/, /g/, /l/, /m/, /n/, /ŋ/, /r/, and /v/.
areas, Barbara’s, companies, employees, laws, plays, shoes, shows, vetoes
jobs, friends, breathes, dogs, tells, seems, Ann’s, brings, Oscar’s, loves
  • /ɪz/ for sibilants: /s/, /z/, /tʃ/, /dʒ/, /ʃ/ and /ʒ/.
buses, advises, churches, Marge’s, pushes, garages

See also[edit]