When you add an ‘s’ to some spoken words, you may need to do more than simply add ‘s’. Sometimes you have to add ‘Iz’, instead.
This happens to words that in their normal form end with these sounds:
/s/ – /ʃ/ – /ʧ/ – /ʤ/
- box (/bɒks/) becomes boxes (/bɒksɪz/)
- wash (/wɒʃ/) becomes washes (/wɒʃɪz/)
- church (/ʧɜ:ʧ/) becomes churches (/ʧɜ:ʧɪz/)
- language (/læŋwɪʤɪ/) becomes languages (/læŋwɪʤɪz/)
Try reading the following sentences aloud!
- Bosses sit in offices filling pages with percentages.
- Boxes, faxes and packages are all sent by businesses.
- Nurses apply bandages and cure viruses.
- Sausages and sauces stay fresh in fridges.
- Witches make sandwiches from leeches and eyelashes.
- An artist mixes paint and brushes it onto canvases.
- Oranges grow on branches in the gardens of cottages.
- Men who repair watches wear glasses with thick lenses.
- People enter races to win prizes.
- Foxes hide in bushes to avoid surprises.
- People of both sexes sunbathe on beaches.
- Birds in cages face disadvantages.
- Noses of all shapes and sizes detect gases emerging from ashes.
- When he’s away, he misses her kisses.
- Students in colleges follow classes in the sciences. They write sentences using tenses in different languages.
- People buy cars from garages, then drive inches from the edges of bridges.
- Musicians of all ages appear on stages.
- My friend washes dishes to earn wages and pay taxes.
Below is a recording of these statements made by a native English speaker.
Listen, pause, repeat. Try to sound like the speaker in the recording, especially at word endings – /Iz/!
Indonesians hate to add ‘s’ to plurals, possessives and third person verbs. In Bahasa Indonesia these grammatical features are produced in other ways.
It’s also extremely unusual in Bahasa Indonesia to see two or more consonants together, which is often what happens when you add ‘s’ to the end of a word:
- Mike’s (possessive, 2 consonants together)
- expands (third person, 3 consonants together)
- texts (plural, 4 consonants together!)
Pronouncing this final ‘s’ is difficult for Indonesians and for some reason embarrassing, rather like when English people attempt to pronounce the French ‘r’.
But if you want to communicate well, and if you want a good score for pronunciation in IELTS speaking, then you had better start producing the ‘s’ at word endings!
In this video, former student George does his best to put ‘s’ in all the right places. I’ve added a scoring feature to help you follow his ‘performance’!
A good way to practice ‘s’ is to record yourself, and then listen back following a tapescript. Focus on the ‘s’ in particular. Exaggerate it. Make it longer and louder. In the IELTS test make sure the examiner can hear it!