# 4.2: When It's -s and When It's -es

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12

## When It's -s and When It's -es

1. In the last lesson you found these two groups of singular nouns:

Singular Nouns that Take -es Singular Nouns that Take -s
house father
box phone
bus finger
dance
catch
guess
place
speech
pitch
waltz
surprise
inch

Sort these twelve singular nouns into this matrix. Remember that the letter <x> at the end of words spells the combination of sounds [ks]. When you get done, two of the squares should still be empty:

Singular Nouns that...
End with the Sounds [s], [z], [sh], or [ch]: Do Not End with [s], [z], [sh], or [ch]:
Nouns that Take -s:

finger

father

phone

Nouns that Take -es:

house

speech

box

pitch

brush

waltz

dance

surprise

catch

inch

guess

place

2. When you want to refer to more than one of something with a singular noun that ends in the sounds [s], [z], [sh], or [ch], you add -es.

3. Now you can write a more useful rule for choosing -s and -es: When you want to refer to more than one of something with a noun that ends in the sounds [s], [z], [sh], or [ch], you add -es, but with most other nouns you add -s.

Word Changes

1. Write the word catch in the blank:....... catch

2. Add the suffix that means “more than one”:..... catches

3. Change the <s>\begin{align*}<\mathrm{s}>\end{align*} to the letter that comes right in front of it in the alphabet:....... catcher

4. Change the first letter of the word to <w> and change the last letter to <s>\begin{align*}<\mathrm{s}>\end{align*}:...... watches

5. Change the first vowel in the word to <l>:...... witches

6. Change the first letter in the word to the letter that comes between <o> and <q> in the alphabet and change the <s>\begin{align*}<\mathrm{s}>\end{align*} back to <r>:...... pitcher

7. Add the suffix that means “more than one”:.... pitchers

8. Take away the <p>\begin{align*}<\mathrm{p}>\end{align*} and the <t>. Then move the <r> up to the front of the word:..... riches

9. Change the last letter of the word back to an <r>:......... richer

Riddle: A baseball player who makes a lot of money might be called a richerWord#9 pitcherWord#6\begin{align*}\frac{\mathrm{richer}}{\mathrm{Word} \#9} \ \frac{\mathrm{pitcher}}{\mathrm{Word} \#6}\end{align*}.

Teaching Notes. The distinction between the use of -es and -s is a rational and understandable one. The sounds [s], [z], [sh], and [ch] are all hissing, or sibilant, sounds. (The sound [ch] is really a combination of two sounds: It starts with [t] and ends with the sibilant [sh].) If we were to add -s to singular nouns that end in these sibilant sounds, it would be difficult to distinguish between spoken singular and plural nouns. For instance, the plural of box would be \begin{align*}^*\end{align*}boxs, [bokss], which would quickly simplify to [boks], making the spoken singular and plural forms indistinguishable. The plural of guess would be \begin{align*}^*\end{align*}guesss, which would violate a constraint in English against triplet letters (see AES, p. 77), and the spoken singular and plural forms would be indistinguishable. So -es, pronounced [iz], is used in place of -s, making the distinction between the spoken singulars and plurals quite clear: [boks] vs. ['bok.siz] and [ges] vs. ['ges.iz].

Item 1. Notice that waltz contains one of the very few instances in English in which <z> spells [s].

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