-ed

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-ed (/ɪd/) is an English verb suffix, which is found in the preterite, past participle and past participial modifiers (past participial adjectives and past participial adverbs) of all weak verbs (i.e. all regular verbs, and some irregular lexical verbs). It is sometimes spelt-t (e.g. as is "burnt").

Form[edit | edit source]

Application[edit | edit source]

All regular verbs, by definition, take -ed in both their preterite and past participle forms, e.g. play --> played, etc.

Some irregular verbs tale -ed the preterite but not as the past participle, e.g. swell/swelled/swollen, prove/proved/proven, etc. Other irregular verbs are ambiregular verbs and can take either -ed or take another form, e.g. thrive -> throve/thrived.

Finally, there is a class of verbs in which the -ed morpheme is spelt -t. These include burn-burnt-burnt, earn-earnt-earnt, learn-learnt-learnt, an ending /-l/, spill-spilt-spilt, smell-smelt-smelt, spell-spelt-spelt. Sometimes, these also have vowel sound changes; kneel-knelt-knelt, leap-lept-lept, keep-kept-kept, weep-wept-wept.

Often past participial adjectives ending -ed can have the additional suffix -ly attached to change them into past participial adverbs ending -edly.

Spelling[edit | edit source]

There are some minor spelling changes. Verbs ending in consonant plus final Y change to -ied, e.g. apply -> applied. Verbs ending in E just have -d added, e.g. skate -> skated. Verbs that end with a consonant often have that as a doubled consonant e.g. stop -> stopped, rather than *stoped. Verbs ending in -ic add -ked, e.g. panic-->panicked (not *paniced), and picnic--> picnicked (not *picniced). There are some spelling differences, e.g. travelled (BrE) but traveled (AmE).

Pronunciation[edit | edit source]

There are three possible sounds for this morpheme; /ɪd/, /d/ and /t/. The pronunciation depends on the preceding final sound of the stem to which -ed is bound.

Pronunciation Final stem sound Examples Notes
/-ɪd/ /t/ or /d/
  • /-tɪd/: wanted, lifted, needed, computed, estimated, and investigated.
  • /-dɪd// handed, demanded, etc.
This is the strongest pronunciation, and the one that historically existed originally.
/-d/ All vowel sounds and voiced consonants (except for the aforementioned /d/ and except sounds not permitted in final position), i.e. /b/, /v/, /ð/, /z/, /ʒ/ /ʤ/ /g/, /m/ /n/ /ŋ/ and /l/. *vowel+/d/: agreed, allowed, applied, argued, denied, renewed, played, showed, stayed, tried
  • /dʒd/: changed, charged, managed
  • /gd/: cataloged,AmE catalogued, dragged, drugged
  • /ld/: called, pulled, traveled,AmE travelledBrE
  • /nd/: cleaned, earned, explained, gained, opened, owned, phoned, turned, warned
  • /ŋd/: belonged
  • /rd/ (in non-rhotic accents these verb end in a vowel sound + /d/): appeared, cared, offered, ordered, shared
  • /vd/: approved, believed, improved, lived, moved, received, resolved
  • /zd/: organised,BrE organized
This is a reduced form of /ɪd/
/-t/ All unvoiced consonants except the aforementioned /t/, i.e. /f/, /k/, /p/, /s/, /ʃ/, /tʃ/ and /θ/.
  • /-ft/: golfed, proofed, sniffed, stuffed
  • /-kt/: cooked, hooked, lacked, licked, liked, looked, networked, picked, talked, walked, worked
  • /-pt/: developed, helped, hopped, hoped, stopped
  • /-st/: addressed, forced, increased, passed, produced, reduced
  • /-ʃt/: brushed, crashed, distinguished, extinguished, finished, pushed, wished
  • /-tʃt/: reached, touched, watched
  • /-θt/: pathed.
This is a reduced and devoiced form of /ɪd/

Exceptions[edit | edit source]

The following words, when used as adjectives have exceptions to the above, and take /ɪd/ pronunciation. Sometimes this is marked by è, so the morpheme is spelt -èd.

  • aged /ˈeɪdʒɪd/ adj. very old; noun very old people (adj. of the age of and the past tense of the verb age are pronounced /eɪdʒd/)
  • beloved /bɪˈlʌvɪd/ (also /bɪˈlʌvd/)
  • blessed /ˈblesɪd/ adj. holy (past tense of bless is /blest/)
  • crooked /ˈkrʊkɪd/
  • learned /ˈlɜːrnɪd/ (past tense of learn is /lɜːrnd/, also learnt /lɜːrnt/)
  • legged /ˈleɡɪd/ (as in long-legged)
  • naked /ˈneɪkɪd/
  • rugged /ˈrʌɡɪd/
  • sacred /ˈseɪkrɪd/
  • wicked /ˈwɪkɪd/
  • wretched /ˈretʃɪd/

Adverbs[edit | edit source]

These adverbs look like a past tense and the suffix -ly; however their pronunciation ends in /-ɪdliː/.[1]

  • allegedly /əˈledʒɪdliː/
  • fixedly /ˈfɪksɪdliː/
  • markedly /ˈmɑːrkɪdliː/
  • supposedly /səˈpəʊzɪdliː/

This is because the penultimate syllable is stressed.

If the verb doesn't end in a stressed vowel, the past tense pronunciation is used:

  • embarrassedly /ɪmˈbærəstliː/
  • determinedly /dɪˈtɜːrmɪndliː/


Anticipated pronunciation difficulties depending on L1[edit | edit source]

Preconceived ideas and other interferences from L1 obviously interfere in many cases with how students perceive - and pronounce - sounds/words in English. The following sections aims to point out some of the most typical difficulties teachers and students may encounter regarding pronunciation.

Spanish[edit | edit source]

Many Spanish speakers pronounce the "-ed" ending as a separate syllable, regardless of the ending sound of the verb. Special effort must be made so that the students don't pronounce */ˈɑːskɪd/, */ˈpʊʃɪd/, */ɪkˈspleɪnɪd/ or */ˈrəʊɪd/ (for asked, pushed, explained and rowed).

References[edit | edit source]