These two consonants are paired together because they take the same mouth position. Learn the correct mouth position for these sounds to pronounce them clearly and accurately.
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The S and Z consonant sounds. These two sounds are paired together because they take the same mouth position. Ss is unvoiced, meaning only air passes through the mouth, and zz is voiced, meaning you make a sound with the vocal cords. To make the sound, the lips part and the corners pull back while the teeth themselves lightly touch, ss, zz. The tip of the tongue is down, lightly touching behind the bottom front teeth, ss, ss, while further back, the top of the tongue raises and actually touches the roof of the mouth, ss, zz, about here. The tongue touches on either side of the roof of the mouth, but down the middle there’s a passage where it’s not touching. This is where the air comes, ss, zz.
Here is the S and Z consonant sound shape on the right compared with the mouth at rest. And with parts of the mouth drawn in. The soft palate is raised for these sounds. But more importantly, note the tongue position. It stretches forward and up. The important point of contact is where the tongue touches the bottom teeth. The sides of the tongue are raised, pressing against the sides of the roof of the mouth. The teeth are closed but the lips are parted. Sample words: sip/zip, see/zebra, bus/buzz. Sample sentence: Because it’s sunny and he’s fair-skinned, he has to wear sunscreen. Now you will see this sentence up close and in slow motion, both straight on and from an angle, so you can really study how the mouth moves when making this sound.
Lips press lightly together for the B sound. Because, with the ‘uh’ as in ‘butter’ sound. Teeth come together to make the Z, and you can see the tongue there right behind them. It’s, the S sound, teeth together with the tongue right behind. Sunny, ‘uh’ as in ‘butter’, tongue goes up to make the N. And, jaw drops for the ‘aa’ as in ‘bat’, tongue up for the N and D. He’s fair-skinned, bottom lip up for the F, fair-skinned, teeth together for the S with the tongue just behind. Jaw drops a bit for the ‘ih’ as in ‘sit’. Tongue up to the roof of the mouth for the ND sound. He has. Now here, has would normally be pronounced with a Z, but because it’s followed by an unvoiced consonant, the T, it is pronounced as an S. He has to wear. Lips form the W shape. Sunscreen. Teeth together for the S, sunscreen. And again for the S in -screen. Lips form the R position, ‘ee’ as in ‘she’, and tongue tip up to make the N.
Lips press together for the B in because, teeth come together to make the Z sound with the tongue just behind. It’s. TS sound. Sunny, the S sound, teeth closed. ‘Uh’ as in ‘butter’, tongue up for the N. And, jaw drops for the ‘aa’ as in ‘bat’, tongue up for the ND. He’s, teeth together to make the Z sound. This Z sound also could come across as an S because it’s followed by an unvoiced consonant. Bottom lip up for the F, fair-skinned. Teeth together for the S, ‘ih’ as in ‘sit’ sound, tongue up for the N. He, he has to, jaw drops for the ‘aa’ as in ‘bat’, normally pronounced as a Z, here it is pronounced as an S because it is connected to the T, hast, has to wear. Teeth together for the S, sun-, and again for the S, -screen. Lips form the R consonant shape. The ‘ee’ as in ‘she’ and the tongue tip up for the N. That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.