Voiced alveolar sibilant

From Teflpedia

z

zone /zəʊn/

In English, both in Received Pronunciation and in General American, the IPA phonetic symbol /z/ corresponds to the initial consonant sound in words like "zoo", and "zebra" and the final one in "sneeze" and "jazz". It is normally spelled with "s" as in "does" or "cousin".

/z/ is a voiced consonant; its unvoiced counterpart is IPA phoneme /s/. Care must be taken to the fact that in many examples the letter "s" represents /s/ and in many others it represents /z/.

Words with "z"[edit | edit source]

  • with inital /z/: zapping - zebra - zero - zone - zoo
  • with final /z/: amaze - booze - buzz - breeze - freeze - gaze - prize - size
  • in "mid"-position: citizen - crazy - dizzy - dozen - cozyAmE - lazy - magazine

Words with "s"[edit | edit source]

  • with final /z/: always - as - because - cause - cheese - choose - close (v.) - clothes - cruise - his - lose - news - pause - please - positive - propose - result - raise - rise - series - sometimes - surprise - these - those - use (v.) - whose - wise
  • Plural: answers - dogs - dreams - eyes - flies - friends - gardens - hospitals - jobs - keys - leaders - lives - shoes - things - watches
  • Third person singular: approaches - buys - considers - does - drags - fills - finds - flies - has - is - loves - maintains - seems - sings - tries - was
See also -s
  • between vowels: acquisition - busy - cosyBrE - cousin - design - desire - disease - easy - museum - music - opposite - pleasant - position - positive - presence - present (n. and v.) - president - prison - proposal - reason - reserve - resident - resist - resolve - result - season - visit - user
  • other: business - husband - observe - Thursday - Tuesday - Wednesday

Words with "ss"[edit | edit source]

Normally "ss" sounds /s/. The following exceptions sound /z/. This list is fairly complete (obvious derivatives are not included).

  • Aussie - brassiere - dessert - dissolve - hussar (a soldier) - Missouri - possess - possession - scissors

Words with "x"[edit | edit source]

  • X as /gz/: exactly, examine, example, executive, exist

Verbs ending in /aɪz/[edit | edit source]

Verbs ending with the suffix "ise" can be spelled with "s" or "z" in British spelling and only with "z" in American spelling.

  • emphasise - emphasize; organise - organize; realise - realize; recognise - recognize;

Verbs ending with the suffix "yse" are spelled with "s" in British spelling and with "z" in American spelling.

  • analyse - analyze; dialyse - dialyze;

If /aɪz/ is not part of a suffix, then only one spelling is used

  • size - surprise

Homophones[edit | edit source]

  • clause - claws; freeze - frees (third person); size - sighs (plural and third person); pause - paws; raise - rays; ways (plural) - weighs (third person);
  • What is the difference between a cat and a comma?
A cat has its claws at the end of its paws and a comma has its pause at the end of its clause.

Greek plurals[edit | edit source]

Words of Greek origin ending in -sis /sɪs/ make their plurals ending in -ses /siːz/.

  • analysis /əˈnæləsɪs/ - analyses /əˈnæləsiːz/; crisis /kraɪsɪs/ - crises /kraɪsiːz/;

These words don't rhyme[edit | edit source]

/z - s/

  • demise - concise; please - lease;
  • compromise /ˈkɒmprəmaɪz/ - promise /ˈprɒmɪs/

Heteronyms[edit | edit source]

  • present: (n. and adj.) /ˈprezənt/, (v.) /prɪˈzent/
  • use: (n.) /juːs/, (v.) /juːz/
  • used to: modal verb /juːst tə/, normal verb followed by "to" /juːzd tə/

Clippings[edit | edit source]

Some words that are spelled with "s" are shortened with "z"

  • business - biz; show business - showbiz; president - prez;

Respellings[edit | edit source]

  • Waze is an application used to find your ways.

Spanish L1[edit | edit source]

In Spanish either [z] does not exist, or (in some dialects) it is the sound of "s" before some consonants: mismo pronounced [mizmo]. In any case /z/ is perceived identical to /s/ by Spanish speakers. Most of them need to be convinced of the difference between words like hiss and his, or price and prize. This is a frequent issue, because /z/ appears in many everyday words like third person singular of verbs plays, does, goes, was, has, is, he's, she's, not to mention many plurals, such as eyes, trees, dogs, etc. See -s.

Note that in the following grammar words "s" is pronounced /s/: this - thus - us - yes

This is explained in Pronunciation and decoding exercises: /s/ vs /z/, and with a lot of detail in Advanced decoding exercises: /s/ vs /z/.

References[edit | edit source]