About pronouncing the 's' in plural nouns and verbs


Hello everyone!



A general rule of English pronunciation states that the 's' in plural nouns is to be pronounced as /z/ if it is preceded by a 'voiced consonant' such as /n/ or /g/, and as /s/ if it is preceded by a 'voiceless consonant' such as /t/ or /p/.


Therefore, "pens" is pronounced as /penz/ and "cats" is pronounced as /cats/.

My first question is, do native speakers of English always follow this rule? Secondly, and this is what I really need to understand, does this rule apply also to the 's' in the verbs of 'third person singular subjects'?


–Prasad (Bangalore, India)

Pronunciation asked Dec 19 '12 at 13:04 Teeture New member

1 answer


In answer to your first question: Yes, I would say that native speakers follow this rule. It would sound odd to them to hear a departure from this, and they would have difficulty in pronouncing sounds that do not follow the rule. Having said this, I would also point out that there are words in English with the /s/ sound following a voiced consonant, as in "pence" or "fence."

As for your second question, yes, this rule also applies to verbs in the third-person singular.

There may be others here who can think of exceptions to the rule.

link comment edited Dec 19 '12 at 13:23 David Contributor

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