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THE THREE SOUNDS OF THE -S SUFFIX

Although the spelling doesn’t show it, there are three different sounds of the -S suffix. Why? Because the -S suffix assimilates to the sound next to it. Assimilation means one sound becames similar to another sound. There are two kinds of sounds: the kind of sound that produces vibration in your vocal cords and the kind of sound that doesn’t. To feel the vibration, you can touch your throat or cover your ears while you make sounds.


-S sounds like [s] after [p, t, (c)k, f, ] caps, bits, backs, laughs


-S sounds like [z] after [b, g, v, z, th, m, n, l, r, and vowels] cabs, bids, bags, wives, teams, beans, bills, tears, pays, bees, buys, knows


-S sounds like [iz] after [s, z, sh, (t)ch, dge] misses, buzzes, dishes, watches, judges


Remember that an -S appears in four places:

  1. plural -s: The boy has ten toys.
  2. possessive -s: The boy’s toy.
  3. 3rd person present tense singular -s: The boy plays with his toy.
  4. contraction -s: The boy’s playing with his toy.

Spelling Rules:

1) If a word ends in an sibilant and then -e, (like rose), and you have to add an -es suffix, leave out one -e. For example: rose + s = roses (not rosees).

2) If -y is the only vowel at the end of a word, it changes to -ies in the plural and 3rd person -s. For example: one fly, two flies, three flies (plural); the fly flies around the room (3rd); but not: the fly’s wings (possessive); the fly’s flying around the room (contraction).


PART 1: PUT THESE WORDS INTO THREE COLUMNS: S, Z, or IZ.

horse, bear, rat, lizard, dog, cat, nose, match, church, lake, badge, roam, loan, lab, lap, miss, cockroach, hamster, snake, bat, worm, pig, leech, prince, princess, phone, pie, house, wedge, bird, egg, cow, rose, wish, laugh, hat, tap, owl, pitch, ridge, price, cry, garage, cough, slap, try, brick,


PART 2: FIND THE WORD WITH THE S-SUFFIX. IS THE -S SUFFIX [s, z, or iz]?

1. Bears like honey. 6. Their hoses are broken. 11. Pete picked all the roses.
2. Squirrels love to climb. 7. Our horses run like the wind. 12. Steve’s frog croaked yesterday.
3. Louis always loses his hat. 8. There are many lakes here. 13. Jeff’s snake slithered on the floor.
4. Fred loves fried chicken. 9. Her dog hates my cat. 14. The class’ attendance is very good.
5. Miss Smith misses her cat. 10. Their baby cries too much. 15. Our English classes are really helpful.