Letter ‘s’ Pronounced as /z/: Practice your Pronunciation

In this lesson, we will learn words with a /z/ sound that are spelt with the letter ‘s’. This lesson is Part Two of Two lessons on the /z/ sound. Listen to Part One.

Here’s a surprising fact: /z/ spelt as ‘s’ is the most common spelling for the /z/ sound.

Before we begin, let’s compare /z/ and /s/. The two sounds are similar because:

/z/ and /s/ are both sibilant sounds(hissing sounds)

What is the difference between the two sounds?

/z/ is a voiced consonant (you hear vibrations coming from the throat)

/s/ is an unvoiced consonant (you hear the sound of air being forced out)

There is also a difference in the manner of articulation between /z/ and /s/. When I pronounce a /z/ sound, the tip of my tongue is down behind my front teeth. In contrast, when I pronounce a /s/ sound, the tip of my tongue points up behind the front teeth, leaving a small gap for air to pass through.

Note on the audio: if you listen closely to the audio examples in this lesson, you will hear that a /z/ at the end of a word sometimes doesn’t like a pure /z/ sound because a small lispy or aspirated sound of air passing out can be heard. This is due to a fault in my pronunciation, as in natural speech, my tongue does not hold the /z/ position long enough. Ideally, there should be no sound of air passing out.     

Practice /z/ Spelt with ‘s’: Some Examples from the Lesson Recording

Note: the /z/ sounds are in bold in the examples below…

as: as red as a rose

has: has he got his ham sandwiches

those: whose beads are those

wise: as wise as a wizard

diagnose: doctors diagnose diseases

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Jade Joddle is an accent trainer and English teacher. She teaches her non-native speaker clients to Speak Well in English so that they thrive and succeed.

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