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In physics, I frequently come across "vertices" and "matrices" as well as "processes" (as the plural of "process") and "gases". In what the two groups of words differ, is the pronunciation of the plural suffix "-es" - at least as far as I got it. Correct me if I am wrong.

Vertices and matrices are effectively pronounced as "verticees" and "matricees" [​i​ː] - this is what dictionaries like dict.cc tell me: https://www.dict.cc/?s=vertices and https://www.dict.cc/?s=matrices.

On the other side, "processes" and "gases" are pronounced with a common short "e" [ə].

I wonder if there is a (maybe unofficial) rule about when to stretch the "-es" to an "-ees". Is it just a feeling of what sounds good, or is easier to pronounce respectively? Or is there a "hard rule"?

My thoughts so far: If the forelast syllable has a pronounced [ə] vowel, then the plural appendix "-es" is stretched to an [​i​ː] vowel for nicer pronunciation.

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  • If you pronounce processes like matrices and vertices, that's AmE. And gases is NEVER pronounced like those at all. gases is like guesses.
    – Lambie
    Feb 5 '21 at 16:58
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    processes and gases are regularly-formed English plural noun forms (the singular ends in /s/, which we pluralise by appending "es", pronounced /iz/). But matrices and verteces are the LATIN derived plural forms of matrix and vertex. Note that this isn't directly concerned with the fact of the singular word ending in x - the plural of fix, for example, is regularly-formed fixes, pronounced /ˈfɪksɪz/ Feb 5 '21 at 17:10
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From FumbleFingers' comments:

processes and gases are regularly-formed English plural noun forms (the singular ends in /s/, which we pluralise by appending "es", pronounced /iz/). But matrices and vertices are the LATIN derived plural forms of matrix and vertex. Note that this isn't directly concerned with the fact of the singular word ending in x- the plural of fix, for example, is regularly-formed fixes, pronounced /ˈfɪksɪz/


... it's not to do with the form of the singular words matrix, vertex - it's just that they're Latin words, for which we still use Latin syntax rules to derive the plural. Latex, for example, is structurally similar to matrix - but again, that one has a regular plural latexes, written and pronounced according to the standard rules for forming English plurals.



Wikitionary marks the pronunciations with /-iːz/ as 'non-standard'

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