The / s / in Snake and the / z / in Zoo
Pronunciation Activation Pack – 32
/ s / Snake / z / Zoo
In this Pronunciation Activation Pack we will be looking at the consonant sounds / s / and / z /.
We will look at the letter combinations that give the / s / and / z / sounds.
We will look at lots of words which have the / s / and / z / sounds in them.
Finally, we will activate your ability to hear and produce the / s / and / z / sounds correctly.
The / s / and / z /sounds are alveolar fricatives made by disrupting the air flow through a narrow channel formed by the tip of the tongue and the alveolar ridge, just behind the top teeth, to cause a hissing sound.
The / s / sound on the chart is shown in blue, which means it is unvoiced, while the / z / sound is shown in green, which means that it is voiced.
Letter Combinations for / s /
This unvoiced alveolar fricative has these letter combinations:
SE, SS, C, CE, SC, and X.
A few words that you might expect to have the / s / sound in them, like island / ˈaɪ.lənd /, do not have the / s / sound.
This is called the silent S.
We find the silent S in a small number of words with the letter combinations ISL, IS, OIS, and OS.
The words containing the silent S tend to be of French origin.
Other letter combinations with S have the / ʃ / or / ʒ / sounds, and I will look at these in the next Pronunciation Activation Pack.
Letter Combinations for / z /
This voiced alveolar fricative has these letter combinations:
SE, SS, Z, and X.
There exists a splendid species of strawberry on the island.
/ ðər ɪɡ.ˈzɪsts ə ˈsplen.dɪd ˈspiː.ʃiːz əv ˈstrɔː.bri ɒn ði ˈaɪ.lənd /
The busy viscount decided to kiss the goose for the sake of science.
/ ðə ˈbɪ.zi ˈvaɪk.aʊnt dɪ.ˈsaɪ.dɪd tə kɪs ðə ɡuːs fə ðə seɪk əv ˈsaɪəns /
The disaster left debris strewn in the aisle.
/ ðə dɪ.ˈzɑː.stə left ˈdeɪ.briː struːn ɪn ði aɪl /
Scissors were seized in six Illinois prisons.
/ ˈsɪ.zəz wə siːzd ɪn sɪks ˌɪ.ləˈno.ɪ ˈprɪz.n̩z /
His demesne, or estate, supports several chamois.
/ hɪz dɪ.ˈmeɪn / ɔːr ɪ.ˈsteɪt / sə.ˈpɔːts ˈse.vrəl ˈʃæm.wɑː /
Problems for Students
Unfortunately, both the / s / and / z / sounds are very common in English and mistakes between the two sounds are frequent.
The main problem comes from the / s / being voiceless and the / z / being voiced.
In this Pronunciation Activation Pack we will be looking at minimal pairs differing only in the / s / and / z / sounds.
Resources and Activators
As with all of my English Activation Packs, this Activation Pack has valuable resources to help you activate the language in this lesson.
Download the resources from the link at the top left.
You will also find the Activators at the end of the Pack.
These will give you plenty of exercises to help you make the language in this lesson part of your active vocabulary.
Interactive British English IPA Chart
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