IPA phoneme /z/
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".
Words with "z"
- 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"
- 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 Pronunciation of the morpheme “-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"
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"
- X as /gz/: exactly, examine, example, executive, exist
Verbs ending in /aɪz/
- emphasise - emphasize; organise - organize; realise - realize; recognise - recognize;
- analyse - analyze; dialyse - dialyze;
If /aɪz/ is not part of a suffix, then only one spelling is used
- size - surprise
- 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.
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
/z - s/
- demise - concise; please - lease;
- compromise /ˈkɒmprəmaɪz/ - promise /ˈprɒmɪs/
- 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/
Some words that are spelled with "s" are shortened with "z"
- business - biz; show business - showbiz; president - prez;
- Waze is an application used to find your ways.
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 Pronunciation of the morpheme “-s”.
Note that in the following grammar words "s" is pronounced /s/: this - thus - us - yes
- Correcting mistakes
- Decoding the letter S
- Decoding the letter X
- Decoding the letter Z
- Pronunciation and decoding exercises: /s/ vs /z/