“ed” endings for past tense regular verbs
A pronunciation guide
Learning to correctly pronounce “ed” endings for past tense regular verbs is a key to helping the ESL student with accent reduction. Learning how to pronounce these verbs commonly causes students problems. But, mastering these sounds can go a long way toward improving your spoken English.
Adding the “ed” to the end of a verb to make it past tense is simple enough in English. This makes the spelling of these words fairly straightforward. The challenge comes in the different pronunciations of the words with the same end spellings. The student must therefore understand the three different “ed” sounds, whether a sound is voiced or voiceless, and whether an extra syllable is pronounced.
The Three ed Sounds
There are three sounds used to pronounce these “ed” endings in English. They are distinguished by the consonant sound used to pronounce them and whether the sound is voiced or voiceless. One way to pronounce “ed” is with a “t” sound, such as in the word, “liked”. This is a voiceless pronunciation. A second way to pronounce “ed” is with a “d” sound, such as in the word “played”. This is a voiced sound. The third way to pronounce “ed” is with an “id” sound, such as in the word “wanted”. This is also a voiced sound.
In addition, the “id” sound adds an extra syllable to the end of the word. The “t” and “d” sounds do not.
It may be helpful to review voiced and voiceless sounds in English. The simple difference between voiced and voiceless sounds is that in voiced sounds, the vocal chords vibrate. In voiceless sounds, the vocal chords do not vibrate. The easiest way to illustrate the difference between these two sounds is to place your fingers on your throat while making the “s” sound and then the “z” sound. Do you notice the difference? You should be able to quickly identify the “s” sound as being voiceless and the “z” sound as being voiced. Now that you understand voiced and voiceless sounds, you have a great way to improve your English accent.
Rules for pronouncing “ed” endings
Now that you understand the three “ed” pronunciations, let’s go over the rules for which of these to use.
The “id” sound
When the base form of the verb ends in the sound of t or d, then add id to the ending in past tense. The word is also pronounced with an extra syllable at the end. For example :
- end - ended
- want - wanted
- shout - shouted
- grant - granted
- waste - wasted
The “t” sound
When the base form of the verb ends in the sound of P, f, s, x, sh, ch, or k then it has the “t” sound. There is no syllable added at the end of the word. For example :
- like - liked
- sip - sipped
- tax - taxed
- kick - kicked
- ask - asked
The “d” sound
All other consonant sound endings have the “d” sound. There is also no syllable added at the end of these words. For example:
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