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Explanation of the -ED Pronunciation Problem

The Key to Mastering the Most Common Pronunciation Problem in English


The Past Lives On!


You are having lunch or dinner with new friends you just met. Excitedly, your friends and yourself talk. You are passed the small-talk and have made real connections now.


The topics are electric! They want to know about YOU! What was it like driving that one time in the streets of the major city in your hometown? What’s the food like? What were the social forms like there? We want to know. What were your favourite movies or T.V. shows there? What was life like there?


What does this mean for you? These topics are fire, and you want to answer them. To do so, you will need to master the past tense. AND guess what? When speaking in the past tense, you will use the -ED sound a lot. It is key that you focus on mastering the three different sounds that come from the -ED sound.


Read on to find out why English learners make this mistake…and how to fix it!


Here is the reason from a phonetic point of view: To correct the mispronunciation of these words, you will need to retrain your muscles to pronounce words with the -ed sound ending and the t sound. You can practice this by reading phonetic word lists, phrases and reading paragraphs in the past tense.


One thing to keep in mind is that retraining the muscles in your mouth to shift from the -ed sound ending to another sound like the t sound will require the conscious placement of the tongue when pronouncing these two sounds.

Here is the pronunciation rule between -ED | ID | T


It is as follows: We pronounce the -ed as /id/ after /d/ and /t/ consonants. For example, wanted, needed.


We pronounce the –ed as /d/ after voiced consonants, except /d/. For example: rained, failed, and robbed.


We pronounce the –ed as /t/ after unvoiced consonants, except /t/. For example: cooked, helped, watched.




That last letter before the -ed is the most crucial one to determine your sound. It may be easier for some students to view it as this;

/d/ sound is like this; enjoy'd

/id/ sound is like this; start-id

/t/ sound like this; wash't.


Only the /id/ sound will provide an extra syllable to the original verb.


How you can correct this problem


Start with Word- Lists


Now that you understand the two parts to the -ED pronunciation, you will want to practice as much as possible. Use phonetic- word- lists as a warmup. Look in the mirror. Make sure that you place your tongue to make the -ed sound, the id sound, and the t sound. Read from the word list.


Practicing with Word-Phrases


Then, move on to short phrases which use words ending with -ed throughout the phrase. After, move on to reading paragraphs with words that have words ending in -ed throughout the text.


Talking in the Past Tense


Now that you are comfortable with paragraphs…


…let’s talk about events that happened in the past tense. You can use past tense topics from your life. Feel free to talk about a book that you read. A movie you watched. Tell us, WHAT HAPPENED?


Drop us a line and let us know in the comment section below!

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