How to distinguish 'month' and 'months' in pronunciation?

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How to pronounce the two and distinguish them in pronunciation as I almost hear them the same.

NorthernStar

Posted 2015-06-10T16:50:17.637

Reputation: 153

I mean I hear them the same, how would I produce or pronounce it as singular and plural. How would I recognize it, how would I know if the person means month or months as in the last pair of examples that @Mark mentioned? – NorthernStar – 2015-06-10T17:02:05.843

How to learn to pronounce "months", well, that depends on what you are most familiar with pronouncing. Maybe you can start with saying "monfs" if that is easier to pronounce for you. And then practice to get the differences right. After that, try to pronounce "fifths". – Mr Lister – 2015-06-10T19:35:31.277

Try pronouncing the two-word combination "month sister" when you can say those two words back-to-back without any discernible pause, then stop the word sister after you've said the *si*. Then work on reducing the length of the short *i* until you are just pronouncing the *s*. At that point you will be pronouncing *months* correctly. – Jim – 2015-06-10T20:44:54.703

If it helps, when I say 'months' at full speed in conversation, it comes out closer to 'mənts'. 'month' though, I would actually pronounce the 'th' sound, but if any word follow it, the 'th' would run into that word without a break. The phrase: 'a month or two' would come out as 'a mənthor two' I am so glad english is my primary language. Learning this stuff would be very hard. – Michael Dorgan – 2015-06-10T20:46:42.443

2For me month is "munth" and months is "munts". Very similar to @MichaelDorgan. – CJ Dennis – 2015-06-10T23:04:11.017

2The final /s/ is unmistakable as a plural marker. Most people rhyme months with dunce, hunts, grunts, stunts in connected speech. – tchrist – 2015-10-17T21:27:22.063

Answers

9

The s on the end can be difficult to hear, but both words are usually paired with a determiner:

I'll go in a month

I'll go in a few months

I'll go in one month

I'll go in two months

The word month always needs to be used with a determiner, such as "a month" or "one month". The word months is different because it doesn't always have to have a determiner:

This project is months away from being done. Correct!

This project is month away from being done. Wrong!

Mark

Posted 2015-06-10T16:50:17.637

Reputation: 4 357

9

The "th" sound is one of the most difficult phonemes in English for non-native speakers, as many other languages don't have such a sound. It's quite possible that there is nothing wrong with your hearing, but rather your interlocutor isn't able to pronounce "months" correctly. In that case, rely on context cues as @Mark suggests. As with other countable nouns, "months" should be preceded by a determiner such as a, one, two, etc. If there is no article, then it's plural. The month(s) is trickier; you'll have to think.

Examples:

  • I'll be away for a month(s).

    "A" implies singular.

  • I'll be away for a few month(s).

    "Few" implies plural.

  • It's that time of the month(s) again.

    Only "month" makes sense.

  • I suffer from seasonal allergies during the month(s) of June and July.

    Only "months" makes sense.

  • I suffer from seasonal allergies during the month(s) of June.

    Only "month" makes sense (even if it repeats every year).

  • That's more than I want to pay for what ought to be just one month(s) worth of work.

    Trick question. The answer here is "month's" — singular possessive.

Note that in practice, "months" should often sound more like [mʌnzs] than [mʌnθs]. That is, in fast speech, the /s/ sound should never disappear completely, but the /θ/ sound might not be distinct.

200_success

Posted 2015-06-10T16:50:17.637

Reputation: 7 829

1Correct symbol is /θ/ not /ɵ/; /ɵ/ is a vowel and not the consonant /θ/. – Nihilist_Frost – 2015-10-17T16:29:08.240

1

In the Midwestern American dialect, months is often pronounced "mons" (i.e. məns or monce), emphasizing the "s" sound and virtually ignoring the "th" sound.

But honestly it virtually never matters. If the number of months is important, then it will be specified with another word indicating the number (e.g. "a", "single", "one", "two", "few", "many"). Using month instead of months may identify you as a non-native speaker, but it should never cause any confusion.

As a native speaker, I frequently drop the plural marker from words simply because they seem pointless. E.g. I might say "bring me two beer" or "I saw some few turtle". That is a rather idiosyncratic trait of mine, but people never seem the least bit confused by it in spoken communication.

Similarly, people sometimes use a plural marker erroneously. For example, one might say "do we have pens?", when they only need one pen. Or they might say "I have siblings" when they only have one sibling. This is probably due to the fact that people tend to use the plural form when the number is unknown. Also it takes fewer syllables to say "I have siblings" than "I have a sibling".

james turner

Posted 2015-06-10T16:50:17.637

Reputation: 241

0

To distinguish the two words when listening, listen for the ss hissing sound at the end of "months". It's not a z, as many final esses are, it's a short hiss.

To pronounce the word, if you're not accustomed to pronouncing a theta, you can substitute "t" and add the small hiss for the plural. It'll be easier, and many native speakers pronounce it that way: "muntss".

Then, when you can easily pronounce that form, you can stick the tip of your tongue between your nearly closed teeth and try out the theta, followed by a quick pulling back of your tongue to sound the hiss.

MMacD

Posted 2015-06-10T16:50:17.637

Reputation: 2 241