Friday, 18 April 2014

How to Pronounce -ed Endings

Pronouncing -ed endings in the past simple and past participle of regular verbs usually gives the students of English as a foreign language a hard time. 
However, it´s not that difficult. We must let common sense help us here. 

The first thing to take into account is that there are only 3 ways to pronounce this ending:
           -/t/ ;    -/d/ ;    -/ɪd/

/ed/ is not an option! :)

The ending -ed is pronounced /t/ in regular verbs whose last sound in the infinitive is unvoiced (except for /t/): /f/, /k/, /p/, /s/, /θ//tʃ/, /ʃ/. E.g.:
  -like liked: /laɪkt/
  -stop ⇨ stopped: /stɒpt/
  -laugh ⇨ laughed: /lɑːft/      *Note that it´s the sound and not the spelling what counts.

For all other final sounds (except for /d/) in the infinitive of regular verbs, the ending -ed is pronounced /d/. E.g.:
  -listen ⇨ listened: /ˈlɪsnd
  -discover discovered: /dɪˈskʌvəd
  -allow ⇨ allowed: /əˈlaʊd

In fact, it´s extremely difficult, if not impossible, to pronounce the sound /d/ after an unvoiced sound. If you try to pronounce "liked", for example, with a final /d/ sound, you´ll realize you cannot do it. It´s a sound /t/ what comes out, isn´t it?

Anyway, the difference in the pronunciation between the /t/ and the /d/ endings is insignificant. Therefore, if you can get the /ɪd/ sound right, you can count yourself lucky. That´s good enough!
So, the key question is, when do we pronounce /ɪd/?
Well, it´s quite straightforward and this is when common sense plays its role: when the last sound of the verb in the infinitive is /t/ or /d/, adding a /t/ or a /d/ sound wouldn´t make any difference, that´s why we need to add the syllable /ɪd/ to really distinguish the infinitive from the past simple and past participle. E.g.:
   -want ⇨ wanted: /ˈwɒntɪd/    
   -end    ended:   /ˈendɪd/
   -hate   hated:    /ˈheɪtɪd/   *Remember: It´s the sound and not the spelling what matters!

As you can see, these one syllable words turn disyllabic.
  -permit ⇨ permitted: /pəˈmɪtɪd
  -recommend ⇨ recommended: /ˌrekəˈmendɪd

Also, these two and three-syllable words add one more syllable when pronouncing the -ed ending. Indeed, when it comes to regular verbs with a /t/ or a /d/ as a final sound in the infinitive, adding one syllable to pronounce the past simple is the key to getting it right.
Now then, after this explanation, perhaps you´d like to test yourself by doing the following exercises:

Pronouncing -ed endings


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