Did you know that the way you write “walked” is probably not the way you say it? Pronunciation is an essential part of learning a foreign language, and sometimes communication can break down because of simple and easy to avoid mistakes. Pronouncing “-ed” at the end of verbs in English can be challenging, because there are THREE ways of saying it. Discover more about them below.
This lesson is for students learning English at Pre-Intermediate level or for people who have a general interest in phonemic sounds.
ED endings appear at the end of regular verbs in the past tensee.g. wanted, helped, lived.
Sometimes in adjectives ending in ED, such as tired, embarrassed, relaxed, and also in some Past Participles. These ED ending words can cause some problems for non-native speakers because there are three possible ways of pronouncing them: / ɪd /, / t / or / d /
Don’t worry there are a few rules that can help you remember which pronunciation we need for each word, but first we need to recognise our voiced and voiceless consonants.
Put your finger on your throat and pronounce the letter L.
Now do the same thing but pronounce the P.
Notice the difference? The ‘L’ sound causes a vibration in your throat but the ‘P’ sound doesn’t. If it makes a vibration then it is a voiced sound (consonant) if it doesn’t, then it is a voiceless sound (consonant). Try this with the other letters and you will “feel” the difference between a voiced and a voiceless consonant (or sound).
Now we know the difference between voiced and voiceless sounds we can look at the following rules for the correct pronunciation of ED in English:
|The /ɪd/ sound||The /t/ sound||The /d/ sound|
|If the last letter of the word is a ‘d’ or ‘t’, the ED pronunciation is an /ɪd/ sound
It rhymes with kidand bid.
Wanted is pronounced as “want-id”,
|If the last consonant of the word is voiceless ‘k’ ‘s’ ‘p’ then the ED pronunciation is as a T.
Be careful not to create an extra syllable or “id” sound.
talked (sounds like “talkt”)
|If the last letter of the word ends in a voicedsound (consonant) ‘m’ ‘l’ ‘n’, then the ED is pronounced like a D
(without creating another syllable)
played (sounds like “playd”)
closed (the S sounds like a vibrating Z so the word would sound like “clozd”)
Now you’ve learnt the THREE ways of pronouncing “-ed” in English, well done! Make sure to check out our video for a more detailed look, given by our CELTA-qualified EFL teacher.