Consonant Sound / ʃ / as in “show” – American English Pronunciation


Hello there! This is the “Sounds American” channel. In this video, we’re going to talk about the American consonant sound /ʃ/, as in the word “show.” You can also hear this sound in words like “ship” – “cash” – “option” or “chef.” We’ll be using this cute phonetic symbol – /ʃ/ – for this sound. As always, let’s begin with some phonology. Take it easy, it’s not complicated :). The /ʃ/ belongs to a category of consonant sounds called the fricatives. This is the largest group of consonants in American English: it consists of nine different sounds! Take a look: So, why are they called the fricative consonants? All these sounds are made by partially blocking the air, moving through your mouth, which creates an audible friction. Speaking about the /ʃ/ consonant, – this sound is made by partially blocking the air, flowing between the blade of your tongue and the roof of your mouth. The /ʃ/ occurs in only 40% of the world’s languages, but in English, it’s found in about 8% of words. Well, it’s not the most frequent sound. But at Sounds American, we like it as much as any of the others. 🙂 So, to support this adorable consonant, let’s find out how to make it correctly. Slightly open your mouth and round your lips. You may push them out a little. Now, focus on your tongue. Arch your tongue and raise it to the roof of your mouth, but don’t touch it. Make sure there’s a small gap between them. Next, release a stream of air over your tongue. When the air flows between the blade of your tongue and the roof of your mouth, it’ll create lots of noise. Something like this: Remember, the fricatives are continuous sounds and so is the /ʃ/ consonant. Let’s try and stretch it out. Ready? Excellent. How about one more time? Here are a few typical mistakes that people make when pronouncing this sound. Some Spanish speakers confuse the /ʃ/ and the /tʃ/ sounds. As you may have already guessed, it leads to misunderstandings. Compare: Make sure that you don’t stop the air before making the /ʃ/ sound because that’s exactly how the /tʃ/ sound is made. Another problem is that some non-native English speakers replace the /ʃ/ with the /s/ consonant, especially when it occurs at the beginning of words. The /ʃ/ gets distorted when you move the tip of your of your tongue too close to your alveolar ridge. Compare: See? These are completely different words! And finally, always keep in mind the Vowel Length rule! The /ʃ/ is a voiceless consonant, so vowel sounds before the /ʃ/ are typically shorter than they are before voiced consonants. Compare the length of the /ɪ/ vowel when it’s before the voiced /ʒ/ and the voiceless /ʃ/ sounds. We talked about the Vowel Length rule in detail in one of our previous videos. Don’t forget to check the link in the Description below! OK, let’s switch from theory to practice! After all, this is the most important part of the whole lesson. This is how it works. You’ll see a word on the screen and hear its pronunciation. Like this: You’ll have a few seconds to pronounce the word. ♪ Try to go through as many words as possible. Let’s start with the /ʃ/ when it’s represented by the combination of the letters ‘sh’. Let’s pause for a second and catch our breath. Next, we’ll practice words where this sound is represented by the letters ‘ch’ and the letter ‘c’. It’s still the same /ʃ/ sound, just a different spelling. Let’s continue. Fantastic! Now let’s practice pronouncing words in which the /ʃ/ sound is represented by the letter ‘t’. By the way, don’t forget that the /ʃ/ is a continuous sound and you have to make the vowel before it short. Let’s do it. You’re done! Congratulations! You may have already noticed, but we’ll say it again. There’s no special letter for the /ʃ/ fricative in English. We know, life is hard. 🙂 which is probably why this sound is represented by a number of various letters and combinations of letters. Take a look: Most often, it’s written as the letter ‘t’, like in the word “station” or “option.” Next is the combination of letters ‘sh’, as in “she” and “wish.” Also, this sound is represented by the letter ‘c’, like in “delicious” or “ocean,” and by one or two letters ‘s’, as in “sugar” or “pressure.” Sometimes, the /ʃ/ is represented by the combination of letters ‘ch’, like in “chef” and “machine.” This may look complicated, but it’s really not. There are phonics rules for these spellings. Let us know if you’re interested! Click “Like” if you liked this video. Share this video with your friends, pets, and relatives. Don’t forget to subscribe and stay tuned on our Sounds American channel!

38 comments

Excellent! Incredible video 🙂 I'm practising a lot. This isn't hard to me because I'm from Argentina and in our version of Spanish we have the /ʃ/ sound. Maybe you heard about it like "español ríoplatense". Some people say it's because of the Italian influence during the last century's big immigration that we changed our accent. I'm not totally sure about this, though. I'll finish with a question as always 😁: the difference between this sound and /ʒ/ is just that the second one is voiced, right? Cheers, and thank you guys for this great video! 😃😌

Hello, I'm Indonesian👋..your video is very helpful, but I'm a little confused in distinguishing /z/ and /ʒ/. maybe this could be the next video request.Thank you😍

Hi. How to pronounce “species” : spiːʃiːz or spiːsiːz. Because when you looking for on www.youglish.con some people say with the ʃ sound and other people with the s sound. Witch is the most commun ? Thank you 🙂

what about the words beginning with ''str''? street, stress, string, strike etc. some people pronounce them like shtreet, shtress shtring… is it wrong or not? cuz i have one friend from usa and he speaks like that.

Dope vid as usual guys, btw the / tʃ / sound is also a rather tricky one, similar sounds exist in many languages but the American version differs from the rest of them

You guys gotta make a vid on the combination of sounds that represent different letters in the American English, maybe even a short booklet or a poster, something to always have on hand and to check out when needed, your visuals are great so it's not gonna be an issue for you to make it look aesthetically pleasing.

Good morning everyone, this was an excellent video. Also I am really interested in the phonetic rules <3 <3 <3
Love all the team, you always made a wonderful job!!!!

Another amazing video from American sound channel. Thanks a lot for your time, We really appreciate your support to learn English. I am looking forward to watching these sounds dʒ-tʃ.😁

Excellent, I was looking for this /ʃ/, it was missing in the fricative consonant, now the play list is complete.
When will you make the video for /tʃ/ one as well? 
I am realizing the result of your video pretty quickly. I have just wasted 27 years of my life learning English, my English teachers don't even know about these kinds of thing. I wish these kinds of resources existed earlier so I would have gone through this painful moment trying to unlearn the wrong English pronunciation I have learnt. Thank you so much, I don't know how to thank you for this.

Hello teacher, good evening !!
I really like your class and I'm very grateful. May I ask for something? Can you repeat the pronunciation of each word more than once? Another thing, do you guys have some kind of app where I can train the vocabulary?

Hi! By popular demand you should make a video on the "tʃ and dʒ" sounds at the end of words 🙂
For example, I know that if you say:
•Lunches and Lunges, the pronunciation is different, but what about with:
•Lunch and Lunge, what is the difference in pronunciation when they are singular?

Your work is just awesome ! Great , clear, simple, and deep explanations all together followed by drills – Perfect ! What else can I say ? THANKS A MILLION !!! God Bless you all !

At the end of the unit, you mention there are phonics rules for these spellings; I'm terribly interested. I think it would help me a lot; the relation between the spelling/ -s and a given sound has always been very
useful for me. I admit I thought this sound / ʃ / mostly corresponded to the spelling "sh", and it's not the case. Thank you again; you always learn something new and accurate in your units.

Hi Sounds American. I went through the word "conscious". In dictionaries like cambridge or longman, it is writen as /ˈkɑn·ʃəs/ but the second syllable heard like /ˈkɑn·tʃəs/. Is it because I didn't listen well or there are some exceptions in the /ʃ/ sound here.

How do I know when I will pronounce the Ch ( S) —mostly when it’s at the end ?

Thank you very much—-by the way I have been studying an American accent for a while. This is more details. I love it.

I’m not sure I can take the whole course with you?

I did not know there were phonics rules, so of course I am interested. Thanks a LOT!!! for these high quality educational videos, The graphics are wonderful and helpful. Learning pronunciation really makes a difference to help you get fluent and understand spoken English.

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