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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

ESL Teacher Blog: Pronouncing -ed Endings in the Simple Past Tense

Regular verbs end with -ed in the Past Simple tense in English and that’s a pretty easy rule to apply. Yet, for many students the pronunciation of -ed is nothing short of confusion: /t/, /d/ or /id/ and why? Is /e/ between the last two consonants silent or does it make a sound?

Even if you've already dedicated a special class to clarifying these questions, it’s worth reviewing again and again until your students’ ear is able to discern and correctly produce the final sounds of the -ed verbs.

First, make sure students understand what voiced and voiceless consonant sounds are. Have them place their hands on the throat and feel the vibration of the vocal cords. Voiced sounds (b, d, g, j, l, m, n, r, v, z) will produce movement while voiceless sounds (f, k, p, s, t, x) won’t. Point out the consonant clusters: compare the voiced /th/ as in ‘teethe’ and voiceless as in ‘mouth’ and test the other common voiceless /ch/, /sh/ and /ph/ (as in laugh) combinations.

Review the rules with plenty of examples:

We pronounce /d/ at the end of an -ed verb if it’s preceded by a voiced sound: jogged, screamed, buttoned, robbed, etc.

We pronounce /t/ at the end of an -ed verb if it’s preceded by a voiceless sound: stopped, taxed, popped, washed, etc.

We pronounce /id/ at the end of an -ed verb if it’s preceded by /t/: shouted, punctuated, reported, chatted, etc.

Special cases that are worth noticing:

The letter -s- will sound as a voiced sound /z/ before a vowel. This in turn will make the final letter -d- sound /d/ (and not /t/) as in: released, increased, raised, etc.

The ending of a verb that ends with a vowel sound (!), not only letter, will have a /d/ sound at the end: prayed, glued, paid, but also: interviewed, cooed, mowed, etc.

Have your students circle the past tense regular verbs in any reading you did in class. Ask them to organize the verbs into 3 categories based on their last sounds (/d/, /t/, /id/) while reasoning their choice. Make sure to include less obvious cases (promised vs. deceased, birthed vs. breathed).
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 3:06 PM
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