In simple past tense we add -d or –ed to the base form of the verb (the infinitive without to) for regular verbs.
base form + -d or -ed
watch + -ed watched
work + -ed worked
arrive + -d arrived
agree + -d agreed
It’s pretty simple, right?
BUT we pronounce the -ed ending in three different ways in simple past.The pronunciation of -ed depends on the last sound of the verb in the base form.
So, let’s say we have: wanted, watched and called
How do we pronounce the -ed ending at the end of each verb?
wanted /wɒntɪd/ -ed is pronounced as id
watched /wɑtʃt/ -ed is pronounced as t
called /kɔːld/ -ed is pronounced as d
1. If the base form of the verb has a voiceless sound at the end of it, such as
p, k, s, ch, sh, f, x, or h, we pronounce the "ed" ending as a "t."
(Please note that, the pronounciation depends on the last sound, NOT the last letter of the verb in the base form. For example, the verb ‘laugh’ in the base form ends with -gh which has the sound ‘f’ in the end, so we pronounce the -ed as ‘t’.)
Note: What is a voiceless sound?
Sounds with vocal chord vibration are voiced and sounds without vocal chord vibration are voiceless.
For example, when you make the sound ‘b’, you feel a vibration on your throat, but when you make the’p’ sound, there is no vibration on your throat.
Voiceless consonant sounds: p, f, k, s, sh, ch, th
Voiced consonant sounds: b, v, g, z, j, th, l, m, n, r
All vowel sounds are voiced. (a, e, i, o, u )
2. If the verb ends in a voiced sound, such as in l, v, n, m, r, b, v, g, w, y, z, and vowel sounds, or diphthongs, we pronounce the "-ed" ending as "d."
Note: What’s a dipthong?
It’s a sound formed by the combination of two vowels in a single syllable, in which the sound begins as one vowel and moves towards another.
For example: ‘play’ /eɪ/ The vowel moved from a long A sound to a long I sound.
There are eight diphthongs commonly used in English: /eɪ/, /aɪ/,/əʊ/, /aʊ/, /ɔɪ/, /ɪə/, /eə/, and /ʊə/.
3. If the verbs ends in the sound t or d, we pronounce the "-ed" ending as “id.”
Note: We never say the ending -ed as /ed/. We say -ed as /t/ , /d/ or /id/.
Click here to practice the spelling of -ed for regular verbs in simple past.