How to Pronounce Plural Nouns

The plural ending of regular nouns can be pronounced three different ways.  Learn the rules to know the right pronunciation.

Video Text:

Today I’m going to go over how to pronounce plural nouns. A noun is made plural when an S or ES is added to the end of the word. For example, cat, cats. Church, churches. The way this ending is pronounced depends on the last sound of the noun in singular form. In determining how to pronounce the S or ES of a noun, there are three different cases.

First, when the last sound of the noun in singular form is voiced, second, when it is unvoiced, and third, both voiced and unvoiced, special cases. When the last sound of the noun in singular form is voiced, then the ”s’ is pronounced as a [z], as in, beds, zz, zz, zz.

What would be a voiced sound? First, any vowel or diphthong. So let’s take for example the word ‘tree’. This noun ends in the ‘ee’ as in ‘she’ vowel sound. It is voiced. So, the ‘s’ in the word ‘trees’,zz, zz, zz, is pronounced as a [z]. Zz. Example with a diphthong: the word ‘cafe’ ends in the ‘ay’ as in ‘say’ diphthong. As a diphthong, it is voiced. Therefore, the ‘s’ will be pronounced as a [z].Cafes, zz, zz, zz, cafes.

Also, a consonant can be voiced. But not every voiced consonant is in that category. That is because some are in the third category for special cases. The ending consonants in this category, where the plural will be pronounced as a Z, are: [B t g v m n ŋ L ɹ ð]

An example, the word ‘apple’. ‘Apple’ ends in the L consonant sound, which is one of the ending voiced consonant sounds in this category. Therefore, it will be pronounced as a [z] when it is in plural form. Apples, zz, zz, apples.

When the final sound of the noun in singular form is unvoiced, then the S will also be unvoiced, pronounced as an [s], ss. For example, the word ‘ship’. P is an unvoiced consonant sound, therefore, ships, ss, ss, ss, the plural will be an unvoiced sound as well, the S. Ships. The unvoiced consonants in this category, where the ‘s’ is pronounced as an [s], are: [p t k f θ]

In the third category, the plural is made not simply by adding an -S, but by adding an -ES. Therefore it is pronounced with the ‘ih’ as in ‘sit’ vowel followed by the Z consonant sound: -es, -es,-es. There are 6 ending sounds that make up this category: [s z ʃ ʒ ʧ ʤ]

Because this category adds a vowel sound and a consonant sound, the IH and the ZZ sound,words in this category will have an extra syllable added on when they are made plural. In the other two categories, we were simply adding one sound, and it did not change the number of syllables in the word. Let’s take an example. The word ‘wish’. It ends with sh, which is one of the sounds in this third category. Therefore, the plural will be spelled with an -ES,nd it will be pronounced ‘wishes’, zz, with the ‘ih’ sound followed by the Z sound. Wishes. So, ‘wish’, one syllable, ‘wishes’, two syllables. The extra syllable added by the plural will always be unstressed. So it will be lower in pitch than the stressed syllable in the word. Wishes.

Now, let’s look at some example nouns and determine how the plural will be pronounced. Age. It ends with the ‘dj’ sound. This is in the third category. Therefore it is pronounced ‘ages’. Two syllables, with the ‘ih’ as in ‘sit’ vowel followed by the Z consonant sound. Ages. Time. It ends with the mm M consonant sound. It’s voiced, it’s not a special case, therefore, the S is pronounced as a [z]. Times, times, zz, zz. Box. The final sound in this word is the ‘s’ sound. ‘S’ falls in the third category. Therefore, we make it plural by adding an ‘e’ and an ‘s’. And it is pronounced with the ‘ih’ as in ‘sit’ and the, zz, Z consonant sound.

Boxes, boxes. Dog. Dog. It ends with the G sound. That’s a voiced sound. It is not in the third category, therefore, the ‘s’ is pronounces as a [z]. Dogs, dogs. Cat. The final sound here is the T, which is unvoiced. It is not a special case, so the plural S will be pronounced simply as an [s].Cats, cats. I hope this video has made how to pronounce a plural noun more clear. That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.