Pronouncing -ed

speaking-iconThe past simple tense and past participle of all regular verbs end in -ed. For example:

base verb
past simple
past participle
work worked worked

In addition, many adjectives are made from the past participle and so end in -ed. For example:

  • I like painted furniture.

The question is: How do we pronounce the -ed?

The answer is: In 3 ways – / Id/ or / t/ or / d/

If the base verb ends in one of thesesounds: example base verb*: example
with -ed:
the -ed:
extra syllable?
unvoiced /t/ want wanted Id/ yes
voiced /d/ end ended
unvoiced /p/ hope hoped t/ no
/f/ laugh laughed
/s/ fax faxed
/S/ wash washed
/tS/ watch watched
/k/ like liked
voiced all other sounds,
for example…
play played d/
allow allowed
beg begged

* note that it is the sound that is important, not the letter or spelling. For example, “fax” ends in the letter “x” but the sound /s/; “like” ends in the letter “e” but the sound /k/.


The following -ed words used as adjectives are pronounced with /Id/:

  • aged
  • blessed
  • crooked
  • dogged
  • learned
  • naked
  • ragged
  • wicked
  • wretched

So we say:

  • an aged man /Id/
  • a blessed nuisance /Id/
  • a dogged persistence /Id/
  • a learned professor – the professor, who was truly learned /Id/
  • a wretched beggar – the beggar was wretched /Id/

But when used as real verbs (past simple and past participle), the normal rules apply and we say:

  • he aged quickly /d/
  • he blessed me /t/
  • they dogged him /d/
  • he has learned well /d/ or /t/


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