Pronunciation > Suffixes > Past simple: pronouncing "ED"

How to pronounce "ED" in the past simple

By Alena Lien, 10 December 2020

The letters "ED" are often added to regular verbs to create the past tense form of a verb. 

They can also be found at the end of some adjectives, however these pronunciation rules here do not always apply to them.  

There are three ways to pronounce "ED" - /ɪd/, /d/, and /t/ - with very specific rules to how these should be pronounced.

Quick summary
  1. Extra syllable after /d/ and /t/.

  2. Voiced /d/ after voiced sounds (consonants + vowels).

  3. Voiceless /t/ after voiceless sounds (consonants). 

  4. Some adjectives that end with "ED" don't follow these rules. 

1.   "ED" = /ɪd/

This occurs after words that end with /d/ and /t/

This is also pronounced as an extra syllable because it contains a vowel sound. So if the base form of a verb has 2 syllables, adding "ED" should result in 3 syllables. 

  • End /end/,  Ended /ˈendɪd/

  • Start /stɑːt/, Started /ˈstɑːtɪd/

 

 

There are words that end with a silent "e" and a "d" is just added instead. This rule still applies if the pronunciation ends with a /d/ or /t/ sound.

 

  • Decide /dɪˈsaɪd/, Decided /dɪˈsaɪdɪd/

  • Waste /weɪst/, Wasted /ˈweɪstɪd/

 

Pronunciation tip for /ɪd/

In my opinion, it is important to remember to add an extra syllable after /d/ and /t/ - and this is quite easy to remember.  

 

Mistakes are very obvious when learners add an extra syllable when it is not required.

 

  • Affirm /əˈfɜːm/, Affirmed /əˈfɜːmd/

Not - Affirmed /əˈfɜːmɪd/

  • Pick /pɪk/, Picked /pikd/

Not - Picked /pikɪd/

2.   "ED" = /d/

 

This occurs after words that end with vowel sounds and voiced consonants

Here, no extra syllable is added and /d/ is kind of squashed onto the last syllable of the verb. The number of syllables should not change before and after adding "ED".

"Voiced," when it comes to pronunciation, means that you use your vocal cords to make the sound.

 

"Voiceless" means the vocal cords are not used and the sound is produced by air flow instead.

 

 

Words with that end with vowel sounds

 

They often end with vowels:

  • ee

    • Agree /əˈɡriː/, Agreed /əˈɡriːd/​

  • i

    • Ski /skiː/, Skied /skiːd/

  • o

    • Radio /ˈreɪdɪəʊ/, Radioed /ˈreɪdɪəʊd/

  • u

    • Plateau /ˈplætəʊ/, Plateaued /ˈplætəʊd/

But they can also end with consonants that may produce vowel sounds:

  • y

    • Annoy /əˈnɔɪ/, Annoyed /əˈnɔɪd/

  • w

    • Allow /əˈlaʊ/, Allowed /əˈlaʊd/

  • gh

    • Sigh /saɪ/, Sighed /saɪd/

 

Words that end with voiced consonants

- (except /d/) /m/ /n/ /ŋ/ /l/ /g/ /dʒ/ /z/ /b/ /v/

 

Some words end with "e" which are either silent or is part of the consonant sound.

 

  • /m/

    • Inform /ɪnˈfɔːm/, Informed /ɪnˈfɔːmd/

  • /n/

    • Concern /kənˈsɜːn/, Concerned /kənˈsɜːnd/

  • /ŋ/

    • Bang /bæŋ/, Banged /bæŋd/

  • /l/

    • Smile /smaɪl/, Smiled /smaɪld/

  • /g/

    • Lag /læɡ/, Lagged /laɡd/

  • /dʒ/

    • Acknowledge /əkˈnɒlɪdʒ/, Acknowledged /əkˈnɒlɪdʒd/

  • /z/

    • Analyse /ˈæn(ə)læɪz/, Analysed /ˈænəlæɪzd/

  • /b/

    • Absorb /əbˈzɔːb/, Absorbed /əbˈzɔːbd/

  • /v/

    • Prove /pruːv/, Proved /pruːvd/

Pronunciation tip for /d/

/d/ is a voiced consonant. All vowel sounds are voiced. 

So /d/ follows words that end with voiced sounds (consonants and vowels).

3.   "ED" = /t/

This occurs after words that end with voiceless consonants.

 

Again, no extra syllable is added and /t/ is also kind of squashed onto the last syllable of the verb. The number of syllables should not change before and after adding "ED".

As mentioned earlier, "voiceless" means that the vocal cords are not used and the sound is produced by air flow instead.

 

Words with that end with voiceless consonants

- (except /t/) /k/ /p/ /f/ /s/ /ʃ/ /tʃ/

 

  • /k/

    • Mock /mɒk/, Mocked /mɒkt/ 

  • /p/

    • Hop /hɒp/, Hopped /hɒpt/

  • /f/

    • Laugh /lɑːf/, Laughed /lɑːft/

  • /s/

    • Cross /krɒs/, Crossed /krɒst/

  • /ʃ/

    • Push /pʊʃ/, Pushed /pʊʃt/

  • /tʃ/

    • Watch /wɒtʃ/, Watched /wɒtʃt/

Pronunciation tip about /t/

 

[voiceless sound] + [voiceless sound]

/t/ is voiceless.

 

So /t/ follows words that end with voiceless sounds (consonants).

4.   Exceptions - Adjectives that end with "ED"

Some adjectives that end with "ED" do not follow the same pronunciation rules, and an extra syllable (/ɪd/) is pronounced.

This can create some confusion, however just remember that the normal rules apply with verbs and not all of these adjectives have a "verb form."

  • (adj) "I spent my vacation in blessed (/ˈblesɪd/) freedom."

  • (verb) "I was blessed (/blesd/) by their help."

More examples of adjectives with "ed":

  • Aged /ˈeɪ.dʒɪd/

  • Beloved /bɪˈlʌvɪd/

  • Crooked /ˈkrʊkɪd/

  • Cursed /ˈkɜːsɪd/

  • Dogged /ˈdɒɡɪd/

  • Learned /ˈlɜːnɪd/

  • Naked /ˈneɪkɪd/

  • One-legged /ˈlegɪd/

  • Ragged /ˈræɡɪd/

  • Rugged /ˈrʌɡɪd/

  • Sacred /ˈseɪkrɪd/

  • Supposed /səˈpəʊzɪd/

  • Wicked /ˈwɪkɪd/

  • Wretched /ˈretʃɪd/

See also:

More pronunciation articles: