Mastering the Pronunciation of “ed” in English

One of the common challenges that English as a Second Language (ESL) learners face is the pronunciation of words ending in “ed”. This simple suffix, which is used to form the past tense of regular verbs, can be pronounced in three different ways: /ɪd/, /t/, and /d/.

Understanding when to use each pronunciation can greatly improve your speaking skills and boost your confidence. Let’s dive into each pronunciation with examples, based on the ending sound of the word before the “ed”:

1. Pronounced as /ɪd/ This pronunciation is used when the base word ends with a ‘t’ or ‘d’ sound.


  • Wanted (want + ed)
  • Decided (decide + ed)

In these cases, the “ed” adds an extra syllable to the word, making “wanted” two syllables and “decided” three syllables.

2. Pronounced as /t/ This occurs after words ending in voiceless sounds. Voiceless sounds are produced without vibrating the vocal cords. Examples include the sounds /p/, /k/, /s/, /f/, and /ʃ/.


  • Hoped (hope + ed) – The ‘p’ sound is voiceless, so the “ed” is pronounced as /t/.
  • Looked (look + ed) – The ‘k’ sound is voiceless, hence the “ed” is pronounced as /t/.
  • Washed (wash + ed) – The /ʃ/ sound is voiceless, leading to a /t/ pronunciation for “ed”.

3. Pronounced as /d/ This is used after words that end in voiced sounds. Voiced sounds are produced when the vocal cords vibrate. Examples include sounds like /b/, /g/, /z/, /v/, /m/, /n/, /l/, and all vowel sounds.


  • Played (play + ed) – The ‘y’ here represents a vowel sound, which is voiced. Thus, “ed” is pronounced as /d/.
  • Loved (love + ed) – The ‘v’ sound is voiced, resulting in a /d/ pronunciation for “ed”.
  • Begged (beg + ed) – With the ‘g’ sound being voiced, the “ed” is pronounced as /d/.

Practice Tips:

  • Listen and Repeat: Make use of listening resources, like songs, podcasts, or English lessons. Listen for verbs in the past tense and repeat them aloud.
  • Group Practice: Group regular past tense verbs based on their “ed” pronunciation. This will help you remember the patterns more easily.
  • Feedback: Practice with native speakers or teachers. They can provide immediate feedback and correction.

Understanding the rules of “ed” pronunciation and practicing them can make a significant difference in your spoken English. Remember, language mastery comes with practice and patience. Happy learning!