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

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Conditional Sentences. Part 2: Unreal Conditionals. If I were a rich man...

A conditional sentence describes a condition that is necessary for a particular result to occur.

 If the weather is fine this weekend, I´ll go skiing.

I.e. I´ll go skiing on condition that the weather is fine this weekend.

There are different types of conditional sentences depending on the meaning we intend to convey. So whether we need to show certainty, a possibility in the future, a hypothesis, or a regret about something that already happened, we will need to use one particular type of conditional sentence or another.

The conjunctions if, even if, when, whenever, whether, and unless (amongst others) often appear in conditional sentences.

As you can see, conditional sentences are not a simple matter and they need to be studied in detail.

In a previous post, I dealt with zero and first conditionals. Next, you´ll be able to have a look at a PowerPoint presentation where I try to clarify unreal conditionals (i.e. 2nd and 3rd types). 

Now, try and practise what you´ve learnt by doing the following exercises:
Finally, try working with your conditionals by filling in the gaps in the song "If You Were a Sailboat", by the wonderful Katie Melua.

If you found it useful, I would be terribly happy!