Tongue Twisters: Everything with -ES

Photo by Yaroslav Shuraev on


The next tongue twister focuses on a grammatical topic that is difficult to learn in the English language, especially if one is a native speaker of German who is learning English. 

The topic is anything with –es on the end.

Why is it so difficult to grapple with it? Because –es has two different grammatical functions. The first one is with the noun.



Nouns with the endings of –s, -x, -z, -ch and –sh have an ending of –es, if any only if they are considered plural. For some words with a –z at the end, they may require a –zes.  In either case, they are voiced, meaning the endings must have a vowel sound to it.

Examples of these plural nouns include the following:

Arch  => Arches

Grass => Grasses

Box => Boxes

Church => Churches

Quiz => Quizzes




Verbs with –es can be applied in three different ways:

  • Verbs with a vowel at the end, mainly with “o”, such as     do => does   and   go => goes.  These are considered silent and have only the “s” sound at the end.
  • Verbs with the endings of –s, -x, -z, -ch and –sh. These have the voiced –es sound like in the following examples:







The condition there is if the verb is third person singular in the present simple form. Many of you have probably remembered the mnemonic in class: “He, She, It- the ‘S’ comes with.” This technically applies with the –es in this case.




Ironically, words with –ce requires the –s at the end but also have the voiced –es sounds. Examples of such include the following words:

Dance => Dances

Balance => Balances

Slice => Slices

Sauce => Sauces

Reduce => Reduces

But this topic is considered a separate because of some rules that apply there that are different than what is presented here.



This tongue twister exercise is a bit different from the ones I’ve presented both in class but also in this column. Aside from practicing the pronunciation, as you will see in the video as well as in the slides presented below, you should also correct them for they all have mistakes in them- all in connection with the plural versus singular forms of both the verbs and the nouns. Your job is to correct them and then read them out loud again with the correct version. This serves as twofold:

  1. You can practice the –es forms of the words and
  2. You can practice the plural vs singular forms of the verbs and nouns respectively.

Because the answers may vary, the key has not been included.  Have fun twisting! 🙂






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