19: -ed ending pronunciation

/d/, /t/, and /ɪd/: become fluent with the three pronunciations for regular past tense verbs in English.


Hi everyone, and welcome back to Seattle Learning Academy's American English Pronunciation podcast. My name is Mandy, and this is podcast number 19.

Last week we studied the f sound and v sound, and the difficulties many students have between the v sound and w sound, or the v sound and b sound. As a review, here are a few minimal pairs between the f sound and v sound.


leaf, leave
few, view
refuse, reviews
proof, prove


The week before that, we studied the sh sound and zh sound. Here is the practice sentence for those sounds:


Vision is usually measured with special machines.


Today I am going to talk about the -ed ending we add to words when creating the past participle of regular verbs. This tricky ending has three different pronunciations. It can sound like a t sound (t sound), like a d sound (d sound), or like the combination of a short i and a d sound (-id sound).

I talked about how exactly to create the t sound and d sound way back in episode 2, so if you want a full review of that, go back and listen to that episode again. The important thing for these sounds is to tap the tip of your tongue to the front of the tooth ridge, that bony area right behind your upper front teeth.

Today I'm going to talk about when to say these sounds for the -ed ending. If you remember the rules for the -s ending from episode 3, you will find a lot of similarities between the -s ending rules and the -ed ending rules, and it all comes back to understanding voiced and unvoiced sounds. Hopefully, if you've been listening for a while, you're getting very good at identifying if a sound is voiced or not. Remember, a voiced sound uses our vocal folds, and all vowels and the r sound and l sound are voiced. Stops and fricative often have a voiced and unvoiced pair, like the f sound and v sound we studied last week. If you cannot identify a sound as voiced or not, it will be very, very hard to know if an -ed ending sounds like a d sound or a t sound.

The -ed ending rules go like this:

Rule number 1


If the final sound of a word before the -ed ending is unvoiced, the -ed will sound like a t sound. An example is the word wish. Wish ends in the sh sound, which is unvoiced. If I add an -ed, the word becomes wished, and the sh sound gets followed by a t sound. Listen again, wished. Another example is the word miss, which ends in an s sound. When I add the -ed ending, it becomes missed.


Rule number 2


If the final sound of a word before the -ed ending is voiced, the -ed will sound like a d sound. Remember, all vowels are voiced. So, if I have the word stay, which ends in a long a sound, and I add an -ed, I will now have stayed, ending in a d sound. Another example is the word live, which ends in a v sound, which is voiced. When I make the word into a past participle, I get the word lived, ending in a d sound.


So far, it's pretty simple, assuming you have a good grasp of voiced and unvoiced sounds. Rule number 3 is pretty simple, as well.

Rule number 3


Rule number 3 is the exception rule for the first 2 rules. If a word ends in a t sound or a d sound, and I mean that it ends in one of those sounds before the -ed is added, the -ed ending will sound like id, which is a combination of a short i sound and a d sound. This happens whenever we need to add a syllable to a word when the -ed ending is added.


A few examples of this rule are the words lasted, acted, included, and added. Notice that all of those words ended in either a t sound or a d sound before the -ed was added, and that after the addition of the -ed ending, the words all ended in id, and none of the words ended in it. Notice also that it is impossible to add the -ed to these words and not add a syllable to the word. Last became lasted, act became acted, include became included.

Most commonly, I hear students say the -ed ending with a t sound, no matter what the last sound of the word before the -ed ending was. You won't be misunderstood because of this error. A native speaker will always understand exactly what you said, but you will sound less fluent than a speaker who can control of their -ed endings.

The book these podcasts are based on, Pronunciation Pages, has exercises to help you practice these rules of English pronunciation and online listening activities to help you hear the difference between the -ed ending sounds. You can find more information about Pronunciation Pages, along with transcripts to this episode at www.pronuncian.com.

As always, I would love to hear from you! If you'd like to send me comments or suggestions, please email me at podcast@pronuncian.com.

This has been a Seattle Learning Academy digital publication. Seattle Learning Academy is where the world comes to learn.

Thanks for listening everyone!