How do you pronounce words like 'resources' and 'prices'?

Do you end the word with 'z' or 's' ?


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Hi Peaceblinkfriend,

Well, on the mean streets of London, we pronounce the final s as a z (a letter which we call zed, but Americans call zee), and I guess that's pretty universal in the English-speaking world.....
We also would pronounce those words with a z sound at the end in the US. Here's why:

Any word that adds a syllable to the ends when the -s ending is added will be pronounced as a z sound. (Think "price"=one syllable, "prices"=2 syllables. "Resource"=2 syllables, "resources"=3 syllables.)
In addition, any word that ends with a voiced sound before the addition of the -s ending will have the s pronounced as a z sound. (Voiced sounds use our vocal cords during the sound.) An example is the word "dog". The final g is voiced (if it weren't, it would sound like a k sound), when dog becomes plural, the final s sounds like a z sound.
Any word that ends in an unvoiced sound before the addition of the -s spelling will have the s pronounced as an s sound. "Cat" ends in an unvoiced sound (the t sound). When an s is added to the end of the word (cats), the s spelling will sound like an s sound.

Let me know if that made it clearer or more confusing for you!

~Miss Mandy
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I agree with Mandy.
The distinction is between voiced consonants and vowels (b, v, m, etc.and vowles) and unvoiced consonants (p, f, k, etc.). So, kick -> kicksss, dog -> dogzzz, guy -> guyzzz. Emotion: smile When you have a word that ends in S, the plural is formed by adding "is" at the end, and that's pronounced like the verb "is", in "That is my car"... "iz", z-sound.

I would also like to add an interesting thing, while we are at it.
That rule (z after voiced consonants, s after unvoiced consonants) is a very good rule to keep in mind, but if you listen closely you will notice some (or many) native speakers don't seem to follow it in their speech. You will notice it's common to hear they use the s-sound (or a very similar sound) after a voiced consonant to form the plural, where a z-sound would be expected. If you notice that, then you are noticing a final devoicing. I notice that all the time. In other words, the z-sound is "devoiced" to some degree, or even completely, so it becomes very similar to an s-sound or even a pure s-sound.

Hey guyz! <-- expected z-sound after vowel.
Hey guys! <-- devoiced, it sounds like an s-sound.

I should also point out that devoicing doesn't change the preceding vowel length, but that's another story.
I don't mean to say learners should do it, I just mentioned final devoicing because it's a feature they'll definitely come across if they listen to a lot of English. I suggest sticking with the traditional rule, since there are much more chances you'll sound natural that way.

Oh, and by the way, welcome to EnglishForward, Mandy. Emotion: smile I saw you are new... Hope you'll like it here.
Thanks for the welcome! This seems to be an interesting place.
I'm interested to hear about the preceding vowel length, if you're inclined to elaborate. I agree that the devoiced z is not exactly like an s sound, but I can't quite figure out why. So maybe it's in the vowel length issues that happen before voiced and unvoiced consonants. Though Americans don't fully produce the z sound in "guys", it doesn't rhyme with mice, as it would is it were being said as a regular s sound. I've been rather stumped on the issue for a while now.

~Miss Mandy
Hi again,
well, I don't know, but I heard (and I realized it must be so) that even if the z-sound is devoiced, the vowel length remains the same, as if the following sound was voiced, and was still a z-sound. By vowel length I mean the difference between:

God = Stressed syllable ending with a voiced consonant has a long vowel.
Got = Stressed syllable ending with an unvoiced consonant has a short vowel.

The vowel in GOD and GOT is the same, but its length is different. In GOD, which ends with a voiced consonant, the vowel is kind of sustained, it seems longer.
That's the difference I was talking about.

Guy, Eye = Long vowel.
Eyes, ends with unvoiced sound = Short vowel,
Guys, with voiced z = Long vowel.
Guys, with devoiced z = Long vowel anyway, despite the z is devoiced and might sound like an s.

I am not sure that's clear, remember it's just my opinion. And I am not even a native speaker, LOL. Emotion: wink
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I think you're right on, Kooyeen. And thanks for the reply. I am a stickler in my pronunciation classes that students learn to say the -s (and -ed) endings correctly. Even though I do this, I know that native English speaking Americans rarely say that voiced endings as perfectly voiced, yet it doesn't sound like the unvoiced counterpart sound (s sound and t sound, for these endings).

I knew we said the vowel differently depending on the consonant that follows, but I didn't realize it was also changing the perception of the consonant as well. I think I will also pay attention to how my students are producing the vowels before the final consonant sound.
Back to the original question, it must be correct, then, to point out that the schwa sound in the final syllable of "prices" and "resources" needs to be prominent enough to make the final z sound be perceived as a z sound, even if it ends up being unvoiced. Otherwise, it will sound like an s sound, which native English speakers can tell the difference between. It wouldn't cause a miscommunication to say it as an s sound, it is just telling of a foreign accent.

~Miss Mandy
Wow! Thanks for all your replies. 

That is definitely a very useful rule of thumb. You made a clearer for me, MissMandy. 

I will centainly watch out for that devoiced z sound you mentioned, Kooyeen. 

Thanks again

Miss Mandy, Kooyeen

Thank you for your very helpful posts.

Does the rule of a /z/ sound after voiced consonants and vowels only apply to plurals or does it also apply to the third person conjugation of a verb?

toes /z/ , but tows with /s/ or /z/?

moisturizes with as /s/ or /z/ sound at the end?

Thank you
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