S and Z Sounds

s:(sit, box, cats)

z:(zip, buzz, boys)

The S and Z sounds are often studied as a pair because they sound very similar, and both sounds are made in the same part of the mouth. There are some differences. The S sound is voiceless, and the Z sound is voiced. What does all of this mean? Read on to find out.

How to pronounce the S and Z sounds

The voiceless (unvoiced) S sound (IPA symbol: s) can be found in English words such as said, sad, sit, box, bus, cats, face, and circle. 

The voiced Z sound (IPA symbol: z) can be found in English words such as zip, exist, buzz, boys, his, was, and is. 

Both of these sounds are produced in the front part of your mouth. When you make these sounds, your lips will be slightly open. Your teeth should lightly touch in the front or be very close together. The front of your tongue will touch the back of your lower teeth. The back of your tongue touches the roof of your mouth on the sides. 
When making the S and Z sounds, air is pushed down the center of your tongue and between the tip of your tongue and your top teeth. The movement of the air makes the S and Z sounds.

 

The S sound is a hissing sound like a snake.

 

he Z sound is like the sound of buzzing bees.

 

 

Let's practice

Practice the voiceless S sound
Practice the voiceless S sound by saying these words:

  • say
  • sad
  • so
  • sits
  • sound
  • sister
  • its
  • cats
  • cross
  • miss
  • boss
  • this
  • lips
  • misty
  • face
  • practice
  • bounce
  • mouse
  • house
  • mice
  • box
  • fox
  • science
  • city
  • circle
  • fence
  • scare (s + k sound)
  • score (s + k sound)
  • Saturday
  • Sunday
     

Now practice the voiced Z sound
Now, let's practice the voiced Z sound. Remember, your vocal cords should vibrate when you make this sound because it is a voiced sound.

  • zip
  • zoo
  • zap
  • zebra
  • quiz
  • buzz
  • freeze
  • dozen
  • is
  • was
  • his
  • hers
  • nose
  • noise
  • noises
  • rose
  • roses
  • bags
  • frogs
  • boys
  • girls
  • friends
  • lies
  • busy
  • noisy
  • nosy
  • exist
  • Tuesday
  • Wednesday
  • Thursday
     

Finally, practice the sounds side-by-side
Remember to voice the Z sound and use only air for the S sound!

Z

S

is

its

exist

fox

zag

sag

boys

cats

Tuesday

Sunday

Challenge words! 
These are more challenging words. Some of these words even have both sounds! Practice them slowly.
The S sounds are in blue. The Z sounds are in green.


  • sizes
  • sounds
  • science
  • business
  • freezers
  • zippers
  • scientists
  • noisiest
  • because
  • anxiety
  • quizzes
  • descend
  • oxygen
  • license


Now say these sentences out loud.
The S sounds are in blue. The Z sounds are in green:
1)    Is Sally his sister?
2)    Sam was my son.
3)    The seven dogs and cats stay inside the house.
4)    He was ssad lasSunday.
5)    The sun is so high in the sky.
6)    Six boys and girls sat on the fence outside the store.
7)    The science quiz was easy.
8)    Pleassit beside your friends.
9)    Is this house hers?
10)    CHALLENGE: 

 

 The seven students took the first test for their driver's licenses on the last Thursday in December. 

Good job! Let’s move on!

 

 

Giới thiệu về Cô Nhã

Cô Nhã (thạc sĩ chuyên ngành giảng dạy ngôn ngữ tại đại học Queensland, Australia), giáo viên Đại học Ngoại ngữ đã có kinh nghiệm dạy IELTS hơn 20 năm. Cùng với nhóm giáo viên của Đại học Ngoại ngữ trong những năm qua cô đã giảng dạy cho hàng ngàn học sinh, sinh viên, người đi làm. Rất nhiều trong số này đã đạt được 7.5 đến 8.5 trong kỳ thi IELTS.

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