Pronunciation of Regular Past Tense
[Note: The letters between the slash marks / / refer to sounds, NOT to spelling.]
1. The –ed of the regular past tense is pronounced as /d/ after a voiced sound. The voiced sounds are sounds that are produced by vibration of the vocal chords. The voiced sounds in English are:
a. All vowels
b. /b/, /g/, j sound (as in judge), /l/, /m/, /n/, /r/, voiced th (as in bathe), /v/, ng (as in bang), zh sound (as in azure), z sound (as in buzz)
Examples: robbed, hanged, judged, called, rammed, learned, blurred, clothed, received, buzzed
2. The –ed of the regular past tense is pronounced as /t/ after a voiceless sound. The voiceless sounds are sounds that are produced with no vibration of the vocal chords. The voiceless sounds in English are:
a. /f/, /k/, /p/, /s/, voiceless th (as in with), ch (as in watch), sh (as in wash)
Examples: laughed, talked, stopped, kissed, watched, washed
3. When a word ends in /d/ or /t/, the –ed is pronounced as a separate syllable: /Id/. Therefore, if a regular verb ends in either of these sounds, the past tense will have one more syllable than the simple form.
add (1 syllable)→added (2 syllables)
recommend (3 syllables)→recommended (4 syllables)
start (1 syllable)→started (2 syllables)
contact (2 syllables)→contacted (3 syllables)
Click here if you would like to practice identifying the pronunciation of –ed ending for regular verbs.