PART 1 -ed Verb Ending Practice

So you opened (opend) up Youtube and clicked (klikt) on this video because you wanted (wan.ed) to learn about how we say -ed verb endings.

You may have noticed when reading the words “opened”, “clicked” and “wanted” that many native English speaking Americans don’t pronounce these words the way they are spelled. That is what we are going to discuss in over the course of this and next week’s postǃ

By the end of these posts, you will be able to better understand and pronounce -ed endings through simple and easy to understand strategies so you’re not saying “I open-ed up YouTube and learn-ed -ed verb endings”. For additional fun, we will be practicing these -ed verb endings within useful everyday phrases and expressions, so we can expand not just your pronunciation but your vocabulary as wellǃ

You may have noticed that we pronounce words like “opened” with a /d/, “clicked” with a /t/, and “wanted” with an /əd/. Why is that? 

The main things we have to think about when considering how to pronounce “-ed” verb endings is what sound comes BEFORE it and what sound comes AFTER it. 

Let’s start off by breaking down the basic rules, then go a bit deeper sound by sound, and then let’s apply what we’ve learned to a variety of everyday and useful words and expressionsǃ


Let’s first consider how sounds that come BEFORE the -ed ending impact pronunciation. When we have voiced sounds before the verb ending, meaning that your vocal cords are vibrating, we use the voiced /d/ sound at the end, whereas when we have voiceless sounds before the verb ending, meaning that your vocal cords are NOT vibrating, we use the voiceless /t/ sound at the end. Let’s do a fun experiment about voiced and voiceless sounds so you can understand what I mean. Place your fingers on the front of your neck and make a /f/ sound by placing your bottom lip to your top teeth, and hold the sound on its own. /fffff/ You shouldn’t feel any vibration there. That is because /f/ is a voiceless sound, meaning that your vocal cords are NOT vibrating. Now, make a /v/ sound /vvvvvv/. Did you notice the vibration. That is because this is a voiced sound, meaning your vocal cords ARE vibrating to make this sound.

So what other sounds are voiced vs. voiceless?

Voiced sounds, or in other words, all sounds that require a /d/ at the end of -ed verbs, include

  • all vowels
  • Diphthongs, including aɪ, eɪ, oɪ, aʊ, and oʊ
  • R-colored vowels, like ɚ, ɛɚ, ɔɚ, and so on
  • Voiced consonantsː b, g, v, z, ð, ʒ, dʒ, m, n, ŋ, l

Voiceless sounds, or in other words, all sounds that require a /t/ at the end, include p, k, f, s, θ, ʃ, tʃ. 

Last but not least, we have the only two sounds that truly have an /əd/ ending, and they are words that end in /t/ or /d/, like inventED and fadED.



Now that’s the general overview, but let’s get a bit more specific and talk about what other changes happen to -ed verb endings, particularly related to the sounds that come AFTER. In this post, we are going to focus on the voiced sounds, and then in next week’s post, we will go in depth with the voiceless consonants and ones that end in /t/ or /d/. Let’s have some fun with it and look at it within some advanced vocabulary and expressions along the way!

First up, we have -ed after vowels, diphthongs, and R-colored vowels

  • At the ends of words, we make a light release /d/, like inː
    • /ɑ/ː The snow has thawed (the snow has started to melt due to the weather warming up)
    • /ɚ/: I went to the link for the Go Natural English Fluency course in the description box and preregistered.
  • Before semivowels w, ɹ, jː also light release /d/ 
    • /u/ː They argued with each other
    • /ɔɪ/ː She was annoyed yesterday
  • Before you/yourː (light release /d/ OR /d/ + /j/ → /dʒ/) Before you/your can be a special case. It can be pronounced like a soft release /d/ OR the /d/ and /j/ can merge together to form a /dʒ/
    • /eɪ/ː He wasn’t honest with you, and he played you (he used you and tricked you)
    • /l/ː He called you out (he confronted you about something you did wrong)
  • (Before consonantsː light release /d/ or ∅) Before consonants, the /d/ can be light release, but is also often omitted in rapid speech when the word is not stressed or emphasized. This is especially the case in fixed expressions
    • /oʊ/ː They showed their true colors, (meaning they revealed their true character with their actions)
    • /ɚ/: It was a difficult year, but we weathered the storm, (meaning we successfully dealt with a difficult problem)
  • Before vowels and diphthongs: tap/flap (“fast d” sound) ɾ, Before vowels and diphthongs, the /d/ changes to a tap/flap or “fast d” sound like we have in words like water, butter, etc.
    • /i/ː I ponied up the $20 that I owed Adam (to pay money that you owe to someone)
    • /eɪ/ː I paid an arm and a leg for that (I paid a lot of money for something)
  • /h/ː /h/ can be a special case, depending on if it is fully pronounced or not. If the /h/ is pronounced, the /d/ is always light release. However, sometimes in rapid speech, /h/ can often be deleted, and in these cases the word now starts with a vowel, making the “ed” sound become a flap like the previous examples of “-ed” between vowels. Let’s look at both in a sentence
    • You showed HER — meaning that you proved something to her that she doubted. Often used sarcastically to mean that you didn’t in fact prove anything at all. Did you notice that because the word HER was stressed and emphasized, that we fully pronounced the /h/ and therefore used a light release /d/? Showed her x3
    • Now let’s look at what happens when /h/ is deleted in rapid speech. 
    • You showed ‘er the book — d is flapped because “her” is reduced to /er/ and the /d/ is now between two vowels


Now let’s look at -ed after voiced consonants (b, g, v, z, ð, ʒ, dʒ, m, n, ŋ, l)


For the most part, these follow the same rules as the vowels, semivowels, and R-colored vowels.

    • (Ends of wordsː light release d), At the ends of words, we use a light release /d/ like inː
      • A penny saved is a penny earned (this expression means that it is wise to save money)
    • Before semivowels w, ɹ, j, and /h/ if fully pronouncedː also light release d
      • /ð/ (voiced “th”)ː He sunbathed right before lunch (do you hear the soft release /d/? When we say sunbathed, it’s the same as saying he suntanned.)
      • /z/ː They didn’t buzz HER in, they buzzed HIM in. HIM is emphasized, so we get the unreleased /d/ (to buzz someone in means to allow them into a building that can be unlocked with an electronic buzzer)
    • Before you/yourː can be a soft release /d/, but can also often merge with the /j/ in “you” and “your” to become /dʒ/
      • You pulled yourself together (you regained control of your emotions)
    • Before vowelsː light release /d/. It can often help to attach the /d/ to the following vowel of the next word. This can be a helpful strategy if you have a hard time pronouncing consonant clusters.
      • /l/ː After a full day of work, he was exhausted and called (d)it a day (he decided to stop working for the rest of the day)
      • /g/ː They dragged (h)is name through the mud → [drag dɪz name] (they said many bad things about him)
    • Before consonantsː the /d/ can be light release, but is also often omitted in rapid speech. This is especially the case in fixed expressions
      • /b/ː I have subscribed to the Go Natural English YouTube channel
      • /v/ː He paved the way for the rest of us (his actions made our lives/work possible)



Alright everyone, review time! Say these sentences with me as we go along!

  • Light release /d/: ends of words, before certain consonants (w, ɹ, j/, emphasized /h/
    • Everybody agreed
    • Are you all preregistered yet?
    • You called HIM and not HER?
  • /dʒ/: doesn’t have to be used, but is seen sometimes when “-ed” followed by “you”/”your”
    • We all followed you
    • They grabbed you a drink
  • Deleted /d/: often used in consonant clusters, especially common everyday expressions. We often use context to tell if it is present or past tense
    • He subscribed to the channel (sounds the same as He subscribe to the channel)
    • They managed their expectations (sounds the same as They manage their expectations)
  • Tap/Flap: when a /d/ is between vowels, including deleted /h/
    • He freed up his schedule (he opened up availability in his schedule)
    • She borrowed (h)is phone


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