How to Pronounce the Past Tense “ed”

Many Spanish and Chinese speakers fail to pronounce word final sounds clearly and correctly.When this happens, it contributes significantly to your accent.

One group of problematic word final sounds are the sounds of the past tense “ed”.

In American English the past tense “ed” has three different sounds.

These sounds are: /d/ as in the word “loved”, /ed/ as in the word “wanted” and /t/ as in the word “stopped”. Here are three rules you can use to help you.

Rule 1

The past tense “ed” is pronounced as /ed/ in words ending with the sounds /t/ and /d/.

For example: wait/ed/ and decid/ed/. This /ed/ adds an extra syllable to the word so it is easy to hear.

Rule 2

The past tense “ed” is pronounced as /t/ in words ending with the sounds /k/,/s/, /f/, /p/, /sh/, and /ch/.

For example: kiss/t/, stopp/t/ and push/t/. The /t/ sound is made by touching the tip of  your tongue to the gum ridge behind your front teeth.

Rule 3

The past tense “ed” is pronounced as /d/ after all other sounds. The /d/ sound is also made by touching the tip of  your tongue to the gum ridge behind your front teeth. Your vocal chords should vibrate when you say the /d/ sound.

In American English the correct pronunciation of grammatical endings is extremely important for clear and effective communication.

In my Skype accent reduction coaching course I always teach my Spanish and Chinese speaking clients how to make these sounds correctly.