Unvoiced palato-alveolar sibilant

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shoe /ʃuː/

In Received Pronunciation and in General American, the IPA phonetic symbol /ʃ/ corresponds to the initial consonant sound in words like "shoe", and "she" and the final one in "push" and "fish".

/ʃ/ is an unvoiced consonant; its voiced counterpart is IPA phoneme /ʒ/.

/ʃ/ is a fricative; its affricate counterpart is IPA phoneme /tʃ/.

Common words[edit | edit source]

  • with "sh": cash - crash - dish - establish - fashion - finish - fish - flash - fresh - push - relationship - shake - shall - shape - share - she - shift - shine - ship - shock - shoe - shoot - shop - short - should - shoulder - show - wash - wish
  • with "ss":
with "ssi": commission - depression - discussion - expression - impression - mission - professional - Russia - session
with "ssu": assure - issue - pressure - tissue
  • with "ti":
with "tio": action - assumption - condition - definition - education - function - generation - information - location - mention - nation - option - rational - station - tradition - variation
with "tia": essential - initial - initiative - partial - potential - substantial
with "tie": patience - patient
  • with "ci": efficient - musician - racial - special
  • with "ce": ocean, crustacean
  • with "s": Asia /ˈeɪʃə/ or /ˈeɪʒə/ - sugar - sure
  • "x" as /kʃ/: anxious
  • with "ch": machine

/ʃ/ or /s/[edit | edit source]

  • associate

Less common words[edit | edit source]

  • with "sh": bush, shampoo
  • with "si": controversial
  • with "ssi": aggression, obsession
  • with "sc": conscience, conscious, fascism
  • with "ci": delicious, electrician, malicious, politician
  • with "ce": cetacean, crustacean
  • "x" as /kʃ/: crucifixion, flexion

In words of French origin /ʃ/ can be spelled "ch".

  • brochure, cache, champagne, chauffeur, chef, Chicago, moustache,BrE mustache,AmE parachute

Anticipated pronunciation difficulties depending on L1[edit | edit source]

Preconceived ideas and other interferences from L1 obviously interfere in many cases with how students perceive - and pronounce - sounds/words in English. The following sections aims to point out some of the most typical difficulties teachers and students may encounter regarding pronunciation.

Spanish[edit | edit source]

While Spanish does have /tʃ/, it doesn't have /ʃ/, so there’ll be a tendency to pronounce "shoes" as "choose", "shop" as "chop" and "sheet" as "cheat" (this latter example having another, notorious pronunciation difficulty…). Likewise, practice is needed with /ʒ/ vs /ʃ/, as in pleasure, leisure, etc.

It is very difficult for Spanish speakers to pronounce the combination /ʃr/ as in "shrimp". In Spain the movie Shrek is pronounced [eʃ.ɾek] or even [etʃ.ɾek], and in Latin America it is pronounced [ʃ.ɾek] or [ʃe.ɾek], but most likely [tʃ.ɾek].

Argentina[edit | edit source]

Argentinians have the [ʃ] sound in their Spanish /ʝ/ phoneme, in words like "ayer" [aˈʃer] and "llamar" [ʃaˈmar]. They may confuse /ʃ/ and /j/ ("yes" pronounced as /ʃes/). Many of them use [ʃ] for IPA phoneme /dʒ/ ("jet" pronounced as /ʃet/).