Hey guys. It’s Hadar. Today we’re going to talk about the suffix ‘-ial’, as in the word “social” or “testimonial”.

Now, when you add the suffix ‘-ial’ to a word, it turns it into something that is related to the original word, to the root of the word. So for example, if we take the word “finance” and add the suffix ‘-ial’, it turns into “financial” – something that is related to finance, right? And it turns into an adjective as in “financial problems”. I use it to describe another noun.

Now, when we talk about the suffix, we want to think about two things: the stress in the word that has the suffix ‘-ial’; and the pronunciation of the suffix ‘-ial’. Because it’s not consistent, but there are patterns, which we’re going to discuss today.

Now, when you add the suffix ‘-ial’ to a word, it doesn’t matter where the primary stress is in the root of the word. Once you add the suffix, the stress shifts to the one syllable before the suffix. So for example, if we take the word “memory”, the primary stress is on the first syllable, right, – ME- mo-ry. But when we add the ‘-ial’ suffix, okay, it’s not ‘ME-mo-rial’, no, the stress does not remain on the first syllable. It shifts to the one syllable before the suffix, and then it becomes ‘me-MO-rial’, memorial.

Same thing with “finance”. The primary stress is on FI – ‘FI-nance’. Once I add the suffix, then it turns into ‘fi-NAN-cial’. From ‘fi-‘ it shifts to the second syllable – NAN – the one syllable before the suffix. Okay? So this is the first point.

The second point is the pronunciation of the suffix. So here’s the thing. When the suffix appears after all consonant sounds except for a ‘sh’ sound, then we pronounce it as ‘ee-uhl’ – two vowels,  ‘ee-uhl’, as in “trivial”. You hear it? ‘TRIV-y’l’. So it’s not ‘trivi-yal’. We don’t pronounce the ‘a here, it’s a schwa. So basically, it’s a high E sound, and then you shift to a schwa and a dark L.

But something in the shift between the high E and the schwa creates a ‘y’ sound. Okay? So listen to it. ‘TRIV-y’l’, ‘TRIV-y’l’. ‘tes-tuh-MOW-nee-y’l’. ‘e-duh-TO-ree-y’l’. Notice that in all of these words the stress is on the one syllable before the suffix, right? ‘e-duh-TO-ree-y’l’, ‘tes-tuh-MOW-nee-y’l’, ‘TRIV-y’l’. Okay? Good.

Now, when this suffix appears after a ‘sh’ sound, then you don’t hear this ‘-ial’ sound as in “financial”, right? It’s not ‘finan-shial’, you don’t hear two vowels. The SH and the L connect and it feels like there is nothing in the middle there. It’s like they’re best buddies and they don’t want anything to hold them away from each other. Okay? So, ‘fai-NAN-sh’l’, ‘SOW-sh’l’. It’s not ‘SOW-shial’.

Now, the ‘SH’ consonant sound is not represented with the typical spelling pattern of SH, okay. You will never find an SH before the suffix ‘-ial’. It will be represented with either a ‘t’ as in “martial”, “influential”, or “potential”. And don’t forget the dark L. It’s not ‘potential’ [with the light L] – very light L just produced with the tip of the tongue touching the upper palate. No, you have to engage the back of the tongue to create that really dark L sound – “potential”. It can also be represented with the ‘c’ consonant letter, like “social”, “financial”, or “commercial”. Or it can be represented with an ‘s’, as in the word “controversial”. ‘kan-tr’-VUR-sh’l’.

Now, this is a long word. And in fact, this video started from someone asking me how to pronounce the word “controversial”. Now, I could make a video on how to pronounce controversial, but I decided that I want to give you more tools to know how to pronounce every word that has this ‘-ial’ suffix. And I believe that all you need to know is where to place the stress and how to pronounce the suffix, and everything else falls into place.

So, let’s take the word “controversial”. You know that the primary stress should be before the suffix. So it’s the VUR – ‘kan-tr’-VUR-sh’l’. And because you have the ‘sh’ sound represented with the ‘s’, you know that the suffix should be pronounced as ‘sh’l’. So you already know the ending – ‘VUR-sh’l’, which makes it a lot easier to understand how everything else should be pronounced. It kind of like, once you’ve figured out these two things – the primary stress and the pronunciation of the suffix – everything else just falls into place. ‘kan-tr’-VUR-sh’l’. “controversial”. Good.

Now, I made a list of a bunch of words with the suffix that I want you to go ahead and take it from my website, so you can practice the different pronunciations of this specific suffix and just try out a few words. Because you cannot make true change without practicing it, without feeling it, and without repeating it over and over and over, no matter how boring it may get. This is why I wanted to make it easy on you. So, you can go ahead and click on the link below or right here in the video, and go to my website and download the PDF and the audio of this specific exercise.

Okay, that’s it. I hope this was helpful. Please share this video with your friends, if you liked it. And you’re invited to check on my website for more great content. And please let me know in the comments below how this practice is going.

And of course, if you have other things that give you a hard time in English, whether it’s pronunciation or vocabulary or grammar or whatever. So, don’t be shy, leave a comment below. And that’s it.

Thank you so much for watching, and I will see you next week in the next video. Bye.