Final -s: Recognizing Final -s
Many speakers do not pronounce final -s.
The earth rotates on its axis ninety-three million miles away from the sun.
In some speech communities, the words rotates and miles will sound like rotate and mile. However, Standard English requires that these -s endings should be heard in speech and seen in writing.
If the -s endings sound strange, then your speaking dialect may be one that doesn't use the added -s. Start listening carefully to your own speech and to that of other people, tuning in to the sound of final -s. Every day as you read textbooks, newspaper or magazine articles, or a novel, pick out several paragraphs to read aloud, listening to the -s endings as you pronounce them. Train your ear to hear them in conversations and your eye to notice them as you read. Meanwhile, study the rules of Standard English to understand where to put the final -s in your writing.
In Standard English, -s appears on words in three situations.
- Some words simply wouldn't be complete without the final -s. This is the natural -s.
- An -s (sometimes -es) is added to most nouns to signal a quantity of more than one. This is the plural -s.
one noun ___ two nouns
(Chapter 14 explains how -y often changes to -i before the -es ending and when to use -es instead of -s in other situations.)
one home ___ several homes
an idea ___ many ideas
this quality ___ these qualities
- An -s (sometimes -es) appears on verbs in the present tenses with singular subjects other than I or you. This is the present tense -s . This -s is added to the end of single-word verbs, or absorbed into the words is, has, or does in verb strings.
I drink tea but she drinks rum.
You lose whenever your horse loses.
We're doing a terrific job while Mark is doing nothing at all.
All of our visits have been pleasant, but this has been the best.
The natural -s won't give you much trouble. You probably use its sound in your speech, and therefore represent its sound in your writing. But the plural -s and the present tense -s often cause problems. In the next sections, we will examine these added -s endings more closely.