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-ED Pronunciation: A Helpful Guide!

Teaching English
< 3 Minutes

Knowing how to form regular verbs in the past simple in English isn’t difficult at all: just add -ed! The difficulty comes when you want to say these verbs out loud with the correct pronunciation of -ed. This is a common problem area for English learners, but I hope that by the end of this blog post you will feel much more confident about this pronunciation issue!

Although there is only one way to spell the -ed form for regular verbs, there are actually three different ways to pronounce this suffix: /t/, /d/ and /id/.

  • The /t/ -ed ending sounds just like the ‘t’ sound in words like hat, tea and spent.
  • The /d/ -ed ending sounds just like the ‘d’ sound in words like dog, had and Friday.
  • The /id/ -ed ending sounds just like the ‘id’ sound in words like idiom, middle and kid. When we use this pronunciation of -ed, the word gains an extra syllable.

To understand the rules for -ed pronunciation, you need to understand two definitions:

Voiced sounds: When you put your hand on your throat and pronounce a voiced sound, you will notice a vibration in your vocal cords. The voiced sounds are: all vowel sounds and these consonant sounds: /b/, /g/, /j/, /v/, /z/, /ð/ (that), and /w/.

Unvoiced sounds: When you put your hand on your throat and pronounce an unvoiced sound, your vocal cords do not vibrate. The unvoiced sounds are:  /p/, /f/, /s/, /ʃ/ (wash), /ʧ/ (chair), /k/ and /θ/ (thin)

We recommend taking some time to recognise the difference between these sounds by pronouncing them with your hand on your throat. Maybe save this practice for times when you are home alone, and not while you’re trying to have a conversation with someone in English!

Now that we have introduced the sounds and some useful vocabulary, let’s take a look at some rules for -ed pronunciation:

-ed soundWhen do I use this pronunciation?Example
/t/When the verb ends in an unvoiced soundhope, wash, look
/d/When the verb ends in a voiced soundplay, earn, close
/id/When the verb ends in the sounds /d/ or /t/want, need, decide

How would you pronounce these regular past simple verbs?

  1. visited
  2. asked
  3. arrived
  4. wasted
  5. lived
  6. enjoyed
  7. relaxed
  8. used
  9. talked
  10. included

Listen below to check if your pronunciation was right!

  1. visited                 /id/
  2. asked                  /t/
  3. arrived                /d/
  4. Wasted               /id/
  5. lived                    /d/
  6. enjoyed                             /d/
  7. relaxed                /t/
  8. used                    /d/
  9. talked                  /t/
  10. included             /id/

Can you think of any other regular verbs? Why don’t you send us a voice message and we can check your pronunciation. Scan the following QR code to find us on Instagram!

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