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-ed is an English suffix (i.e. bound morpheme), 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 verbs). It is sometimes spelt -t (e.g. as is "burnt").


This is found in all regular verbs, e.g. play --> played.

Some irregular verbs have an -ed form as teh preterite but not as the past participle, e.g. swell/swelled/swollen, prove/proved/proven, etc. . Thrive has a regular past participle, "thrived", but an irregular preterite "throve" as well as a regular one "thrived".

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


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

For all stems that end with vowel sounds and voiced consonants (except for the voiced consonant /d/) and the “-ed” is pronounced /d/.

opened, called, seemed and agreed.

For all stems that end with unvoiced consonants and the “ed” is pronounced /t/ (except for the voiceless consonant /t/).

These consonants are /f/, /k/, /p/, /s/, /ʃ/, /tʃ/ and /θ/.

Say the following: pushed, helped, liked and reduced. A /t/ sound is added at the end of these verbs.

When a stem ends with either /d/ or a /t/ we have to pronounce the full “ed” sound as a separate syllable: /-ɪd/, e.g. wanted, lifted, needed, computed, estimated, and investigated.

The good news is that the difference between the “t” and “d” sound is not that great. The important thing is to differentiate between the “t” “d” pair on the one hand, and the set of verbs ending “ed”.

Examples of regular verbs with the /t/ sound

  • /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

The past tense of "ask" is pronounced either /æskt,AmE ɑːsktBrE/ or /æst,AmE, ɑːstBrE/.

The past tense of "jump" is pronounced either /dʒʌmpt/ or /dʒʌmt/.

Examples of regular verbs with the /d/ sound

  • 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

Examples of regular verbs with the /ɪd/ sound

  • Finishing in "t" or "te": act, activate, adapt, compete, create, defeat, estimate, exist, infect, invite, lift, list, pollute, promote, reject, repeat, respect, result, shift, suggest, support, start, test, unite, want
  • Finishing in "d" or "de": add, blend, decide, defend, demand, divide, end, extend, include, invade, need, pretend, provide, succeed


The following words are not past tenses (or not always are past tenses) and therefore the pronunciation rules for past tense do not necessarily apply.

  • 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/


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

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.


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).

See also


External links