Chinese speakers and word final sounds

Chinese speakers and word final soundsAsian woman on iPad

American English words frequently end in a voiced consonant sound.

Many Chinese speakers (Mandarin, Cantonese) never learned to voice sounds that occur at the end of words.

Failing to voice consonants such as; /z/, /d/, /v/ & /n/ will make your words sound incomplete or ungrammatical.

Rules for using voiced word final sounds

Here are four rules and practice activities you can use to practice using voiced consonant sounds.

1. The /z/ sound

The letter S frequently has a /z/ sound when it occurs at the end of a word. 

You need to make sure that your vocal chords are fully vibrating if you want Americans to hear a clear /z/ sound.

Examples include:

Words

  • kids
  • ideas
  • policies
  • homes
  • brags

Sentences

  1. Do you have any kids?
  2. Let’s discuss your ideas.
  3. We have some new policies.
  4. John has two homes.
  5. He brags about his homes.

2. The /d/ sound

The letter D frequently occurs at the end of words. The /d/ is a voiced sound.

You need to make sure that your vocal chords are fully vibrating if you want Americans to hear this sound clearly.

Examples include:

Words

  • need
  • made
  • loved
  • moved
  • old

Sentences

  1. We need to make changes.
  2. We already made the changes.
  3. I loved the changes.
  4. We moved to new offices.
  5. Our old offices were in bad shape.

3. The /v/ sound

The letter V frequently occurs at the end of words. The /v/ is a voiced sound.

You need to make sure that your vocal chords are fully vibrating if you want Americans to hear this sound clearly.

Examples include:

Words

  • save
  • active
  • love
  • serve
  • leave

Sentences

  1. Did you save a copy?
  2. It’s important to stay active.
  3. I love to stay active.
  4. What type of clients do you serve?
  5. Do you need to leave?

4. The /n/ sound

The letter N frequently occurs at the end of words. The /n/ is a voiced sound. It’s also a nasal sound.

You need to make sure that your vocal chords and nose are vibrating if you want Americans to hear this sound clearly.

Examples include:

Words

  • win
  • known
  • phone
  • main
  • remain

Sentences

  1. Did you win?
  2. The winner is still unknown.
  3. Where’s your phone?
  4. I live on Main Street.
  5. Please remain at home.

I can show you how

Even when you know what features of American English you need to work on, it’s challenging to organize lessons on your own. In my American accent coaching program, I help you speak American English in a manner that sounds clear and professional.

Contact me with your questions about how this works.

About the author

Susan Ryan is an American English communication and accent reduction coach.

Contact her with your questions about clear American speech.