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Correct pronunciation plays a crucial role in language learning as it helps learners effectively communicate and be understood by native speakers. In addition, proper pronunciation enhances listening skills and helps learners improve their overall language fluency. Moreover, accurate pronunciation allows learners to develop a more authentic and confident speaking style, which is essential for building strong interpersonal relationships and succeeding professionally.

The pronunciation of past tense “-ed” is crucial for language learners as it can significantly enhance their ability to communicate effectively. Mastering the correct pronunciation of “-ed” endings is essential to avoid misunderstandings and confusion in conversations. Moreover, understanding the different ways “-ed” can be pronounced in English helps learners comprehend spoken English more efficiently and accurately.

The pronunciation of the past tense “-ed” in English can vary depending on the preceding or the base verb’s final sound. There are three main ways to pronounce “-ed”: /d/, /t/, and /ɪd/ (or /Id/).

/d/ Sound

When the base verb ends in a voiced consonant sound (sounds produced with vibrating vocal cords), such as /b/, /g/, /v/, /ð/ (as in “this”), /z/, /ʒ/ (as in “measure”), and vowel sounds, the “-ed” ending is pronounced as /d/.

    • grabbed /ɡræbd/ (base verb ends in /b/)
    • loved /lʌvd/ (base verb ends in /v/)
    • raised /reɪzd/ (base verb ends in /z/)
    • measured /ˈmeʒərd/ (base verb ends in /ʒ/)

/t/sound

When the base verb ends in a voiceless consonant sound (sounds produced without vibrating the vocal cords), such as /p/, /k/, /s/, /f/, /θ/ (as in “th”), and /ʃ/ (as in “sh”), the “-ed” ending is pronounced as /t/.

    • walked /wɔkt/ (base verb ends in /k/)
    • hissed /hɪst/ (base verb ends in /s/)
    • laughed /læft/ (base verb ends in /f/)
    • bathed /beɪθt/ (base verb ends in /θ/)
    • washed /wɑʃt/ (base verb ends in /ʃ/)

/ɪd/ Sound

When the base verb ends in the “t” or “d” sounds, the “-ed” ending is pronounced as /ɪd/. This occurs when the final sound of the base verb is already /t/ or /d/.

    • needed /ˈnidɪd/ (base verb ends in /d/)
    • wanted /ˈwɑntɪd/ (base verb ends in /t/)
    • blended /ˈblɛndɪd/ (base verb ends in /d/)
    • started /ˈstɑrtɪd/ (base verb ends in /t/)

It’s important to note that the pronunciation of “-ed” in the past tense is not always reflected in the word’s spelling. English pronunciation rules can be complex, and there are exceptions and variations.

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Devika Panikar
δάσκαλος (dáskalos) means the teacher in Greek. Devika Panikar has been teaching English Language and Literature since 2006. She is an Assistant Professor with the Directorate of Collegiate Education under the Government of Kerala. She teaches at the Government Colleges under this directorate and is now posted at the Government Law College, Thiruvananthapuram. This website is a collection of lecture notes she prepared by referencing various sources for her students’ perusal. It has been compiled here for the sake of future generations.

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