One of the trickiest aspects of American English pronunciation is the past-tense “-ed” ending. Although this ending looks the same when written, it can be pronounced several different ways based on the word it’s attached to. Learning the nuances of these variations is one of the key differences that can help you master the American English accent! Ready to get started? Take a look at our pronunciation guide below!
The “-ed” endings of past tense verbs can be pronounced three different ways:
– /d/ a “d” sound, such as at the end of the word “bed”
– /t/ a “t” sound, such as at the end of the word “not”
– /ǝd/ a separate syllable which sounds much like the “-id” portion of the word “kid”
Over the past two weeks we focused on the first two variations: /d/ and /t/. Today, we’ll work on the final variation: the syllabic “-ed” ending, /ǝd/.
Unlike /d/ and /t/ sounds, the /ǝd/ ending is pronounced as a full extra syllable tacked on to the root word. Many non-native speakers of English default to this pronunciation for many past-tense forms. In reality, this pronunciation should only be used in two situations: The /ǝd/ sound is ONLY used when the root word ends in /t/ or /d/. Take a look at the examples below:
Final Sound Example Word Correct Pronunciation
/t/ “chatted” chat- ǝd
/d/ “needed” need- ǝd
In both of the above cases, the words should be pronounced with two syllables or beats.
Ready for some practice? The following words all end in the /ǝd/ sound. Practice the correct pronunciation by reading each word aloud:
Want to learn more? Take a look at the video below to hear Corporate Speech Solutions founder and President Jayne Latz talk more about past tense endings in Standard American English:
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