The pronunciation and spelling of endings

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Question English
Answer English

-s is [s] after voiceless sounds.
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shops. writes. Mick's. cliffs.

-s is [z] after voiced sounds.
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sees. eyes. jobs. beds.

-s/-es is [iz] after the sounds [s], [z], [∫], [Ʒ], [ʧ] and [ʤ].
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prices. loses. watches. Mr Blish's.

After the sounds [s], [z], [∫], [Ʒ], [ʧ] and [ʤ] the end is -es.
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dish → dishes. box → boxes. watch→ watches.

if the word ends in e, the ending is -s.
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price → prices. lose → loses. realize → realizes.

We leave out e before an ending with a vowel, e.g. -ing, -ed, -er, -est.
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write → writing. like→ liked. nice → nicer. fine → finest.

If the e is part of a vowel sound (e.g. agree), we do not leave it out before -ing.
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agree → agreeing/agreed.

We do not leave out e before an ending with a consonant, e.g. -s, -ly.
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make → makes. nice → nicely.

But we leave out e from true and whole before -ly.
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true → truly. whole → wholly.

When an adjective ending in - le becomes an adverb, e changes to y.
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possible → possibly. probable → probably.

-ed is [t] after voiceless sounds.
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stopped. looked. passed. laughed.

-ed is [d] after voiced sounds.
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showed. played. cleaned. used.

-ed is [id] after [t] and [d].
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waited. ended.

In short words with one written vowel (a, e, i, o, u) + one written consonant (n, p, g, t, etc.), we double the consonant (nn, pp, gg, tt) before an ending with a vowel, e.g. -ing, -ed, -er, or -est.
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plan → planning. stop → stopped. big → bigger. fat → fattest.

We do not double the consonant if it is y or w (e.g. play, show)
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play → playing. show → showed. clean→ cleaner. short → shortest.

In longer words we double the consonant if the last part of the word is stressed (e.g. begin).
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begin → beginning.

We do not double the consonant if the last part of the word is unstressed (e.g. visit).
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visit → visiting.

But we double l in British English (e.g. GB travelled, USA traveled.
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travel → travelling.

In words ending in a consonant (d, l, r, n, p etc.) + y, the y changes to ie before -s and to i before -ed, -er, -est and -ly.
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lady → ladies. fly → flies. carry → carried. funny → funnier. silly → silliest. happy → happily.

In the possessive form we use an apostrophe + s with a singular noun and an apostrophe with a plural noun.
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the secretary's desk. the secretaries' desks.

y does not change after a vowel.
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play → played.

y does not change before -ing.
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fly → flying.

ie changes to y before -ing.
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lie → lying.


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