Phonics for S sound



The pronunciation of the consonant s in English can vary based on its position within a word, its neighboring sounds, and the specific accent or dialect.

Here are some general rules and guidelines for pronouncing the s sound:


Initial Position:

When s appears at the beginning of a word, it is typically pronounced as an unvoiced /s/ sound.

This is the hissing sound often associated with the letter s.

Example: sun, snake, snow






Medial Position:

When s appears in the middle of a word, its pronunciation remains generally consistent.

It is usually pronounced as an unvoiced /s/ sound.

Example: cost, basket, must






Final Position:

When s appears at the end of a word, its pronunciation can vary.

In some cases, it is pronounced as an unvoiced /is/ sound, while in other cases, it might sound

like /z/ or /z/ (as in iz):

/s/ sound: bus, cats, pots

 /z/ sound: dogs, beds (often pronounced with a /z/ sound in casual speech)

/iz/ sound: buses, wishes (when the base word ends in a sibilant sound,

like /s/, /z/, /ʃ/, /ʒ/, /tʃ/, or /dʒ/)







Plural and Possessive s:

When adding the plural -s or the possessive ‘s to a word, the pronunciation can again vary based on whether the base word ends in a sibilant sound or another consonant sound.

/s/ sound: cats, dots, books

/z/ sound: bears, toys, friends

/iz/ sound: buses’, wishes’







Adjacent Vowels:

When s appears between two vowels, it might take on a z sound due to the voicing effect of the neighboring vowels.

Example: roses (/ˈroʊzɪz/), causes (/ˈkɔːzɪz/)








Assimilation and Liaison:

In connected speech, the pronunciation of s can change due to assimilation and liaison.

For instance, s can become voiced before a voiced consonant (e.g., is this pronounced as /ɪz ðɪs/) or form a liaison with a following word beginning with a vowel (e.g., cats and dogs pronounced as /kæts ən dɒɡz/).





Here are some pronunciation exercises to help you practice the s sound in different positions within words and sentences:


Minimal Pairs:

Practice distinguishing between words that start with the s sound and those that start with different sounds, like sh or th.

sun / shun

sock / shock

snake / shake





Sentence Repetition:

Repeat sentences that start with words containing the s sound.


She sells seashells by the seashore.

Sammy saw seven slippery snakes.






Word Chain:

Create a chain of words where the last sound of one word is the initial sound of the next. This will help you practice the s sound in different positions.

bus – sun – snake – ice – house






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