The s Sound (/s/ Phoneme)

Hi there this is the s sound. As in the words:

  • see /siː/
  • say /seI/
  • sell /sel/

The s sound is from the ‘Consonants Pairs’ group and it is called the ‘Voiceless alveolar sibilant’. This means that you create friction through clenched teeth by directing air flow with the tip of th tongue.

How to pronounce the s sound

The s sound is made through the mouth and it is Unvoiced which means that you don’t use your vocal chords to make the sound.
It is defined by shape of your teeth and the position of your tongue and it is a Sibilant, which is a sound made by directing a stream of air with the tongue towards the sharp edge of the teeth, In this case .
To produce the sound Clench your teeth together lightly and put your tongue just behind them restricting airflow to a narrow channel over the tongue and through the teeth. Then push air through the channel and through the teeth.

How the s sound is Spelled

The /s/ phoneme is normally spelled with the letter ‘s’ as in the words:

  • so /səʊ/
  • just /dʒəst/

but can also be spelt with the letter ‘c’, when followed by an ‘i’ or an ‘e’. As in the words:

  • city /ˈsɪti/
  • once /wʌns/

Examples of the s sound

Here are some words that begin with the /s/ phoneme:

  • some /sʌm/
  • school /skuːl/
  • still /’stɪl/
  • state /steɪt/

Here are some words with the/s/ phoneme in the middle:

  • just /dʒəst/
  • first /fɜːst
  • also /’ɔːlsəʊ/
  • last /lɑːst/

Here are some words with the/s/ phoneme at the end:

  • this /ðɪs/
  • us /əs/
  • place /pleIs/
  • case /keɪs/

So, that’s it for the s sound.

One Response to “The s Sound (/s/ Phoneme)”

  1. Breenee September 17, 2016 at 8:48 am #

    Hello !
    I really would like to know if there is a rule which helps me to check up in the case when we spell a word contains the letter S in the middle whether it is pronounced as S or as Z.
    For example look at these 3 words
    Thank you very much for answering my question.

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