1. How to Pronounce Verbs Ending -ed
Hopefully, you already know that most past verbs end in -ed. You might also know that past verbs ending in -ed are not all pronounced the same way. For example:
In these three verbs, the -ed ending is pronounced in a different way each time. Can you hear the difference? Do you know why the three verbs are different?
Let’s look at the answer:
- planned —> the -ed ending is pronounced with a /d/ sound, like the ‘d’ in ‘dog’
- asked —> the -ed ending is pronounced with a /t/ sound, like the ‘t’ in ‘time’
- decided —> the -ed ending is pronounced with an /ɪd/ sound, like the ‘id’ in ‘did’
2. Voiced and Unvoiced Consonant Sounds
First of all, there are two types of sound in English. Vowels are sounds made by the letters a/e/i/o/u, and consonants are sounds made by all other letters (b/c/d/f…).
There are two types of consonant sound in English.
One kind of consonant sound is called voiced. This means that when you make the sound, you use the muscles in your throat.
Examples of voiced sounds are /b/, /v/ and /g/. Try saying /b/, as in banana. If you put your fingers on your throat, you should feel the muscles in your throat move when you make the /b/ sound.
The other kind of consonant sound is called unvoiced. This means that when you make the sound, the air comes straight from your chest, and you don’t use the muscles in your throat.
Examples of unvoiced sounds are /p/, /f/ and /k/. Try saying parent. You can check that you are saying the sound correctly in two ways.
First, put your fingers on your throat, like before. When you make the /p/ sound, you shouldn’t feel anything in your throat.
Secondly, put your hand over your mouth and say /p/. You should feel some air come out. When you say /b/, which is voiced, you shouldn’t feel any air come out.
So, we started talking about the pronunciation of -ed endings in verbs, and now we’re talking about consonant sounds, throat muscles and so on… Why?
Because if you want to know how to pronounce -ed endings, you need to look at the sound before the -ed ending.
3. The Pronunciation of -ed Endings Depends on the Sound Before
After a voiced consonant or a vowel, -ed is pronounced /d/:
- lived —> /v/ is voiced
- called —> /l/ is voiced
- worried —> worry ends with a vowel sound
After unvoiced consonants, -ed is pronounced /t/:
- laughed —> /f/ is unvoiced
- missed —> /s/ is unvoiced
- watched —> /tʃ/ is unvoiced
After the consonant sounds /d/ or /t/, -ed is pronounced /ɪd/:
What about the other two rules—do you need to learn the difference between voiced and unvoiced consonants?
Probably not, because it’s a lot of information to remember when you’re trying to speak.
But it is useful to know that there is logic here. It might be a good idea to have a list of voiced/unvoiced consonants, so that you can check the pronunciation if you are not sure.
4. List of Voiced and Unvoiced Consonant Sounds
Voiced consonants: /b/ /d*/ /g/ /ð/ /v/ /l/ /r/ /z/ /dʒ/ /ʒ/ /m/ /n/ /ŋ/
Unvoiced consonants: /p/ /t*/ /k/ /s/ /ʃ/ /tʃ/ /θ/ /f/
*Remember that -ed is pronounced /ɪd/ after /d/ or /t/