The Problem of the ED Ending

Pronouncing ED Endings

Have you ever noticed that words that end with ED in English are not always pronounced with Ed? Does your English teacher correct you when you try to pronounce regular verbs in the past tense or past participles? This post will help you to understand how we pronounce words in English that are written with an ED ending.

The Basic Rule: 3 Groups

Look at the present and past forms of these 3 words.

watch watched

lean leaned

note noted

If you use the pronunciation feature of your favorite dictionary website, you will hear that 2 of the words are not pronounced with an ED ending. You will hear that “watched” is pronounced with a T sound at the end, and “leaned” is pronounced with a D sound. In these 2 cases, the E is completely silent. “Noted” is the only word in the group that is pronounced with an ED ending. What does this mean? This means that we can divide words that end with ED into 3 groups: words that are pronounced with a T ending, words that are pronounced with a D ending, and words that have the ED ending. In the first 2 groups, the E is silent.

How do we Know?

How do we know which ending a word has? We know because of the sound that comes before the ending. For example, “watch” ends with a CH sound. If we add ED to a word that ends with CH, we pronounce it with a T at the end. Now I will tell you about the 3 groups of words and how we know which group a word is in.

Group 1: T Ending

The first group is words that are pronounced with a T ending. To know these words, pay attention to the letter before the ending. If the word has a K, P, S, Sh, Ch, or F ending, it is in this group. Here are some example words. They are verbs because verbs are good examples of the rule. You will see the present tense and the past tense. Look at the present tense and think about how it is pronounced. When you pronounce the past tense, add a T sound.

cook cooked

hope hoped

dance danced

wash washed

reach reached

laugh laughed

Were you able to pronounce the endings correctly? If you are not sure, use your favorite dictionary website to check.

Group 2: D Ending

The second group of words is words that have a D ending. If the sound before the ED is: B, G, V, Z, THE, J, M, N, NG, L, R, or a vowel sound, the word will end with a D sound. here are some examples. Try to pronounce them with a D ending.

grab grabbed

brag bragged

live lived

raise raised

bathed bathed

judge judged

aim aimed

plan planned

bang banged

roll rolled

care cared

play played

free freed

die died

show showed

boo booed

This time also, if you are not sure that you pronounced them correctly, check yourself with your favorite dictionary website or with Google Translate.

Group 3: Extra ED Syllable

The third group of words is the words that are pronounced with the ED ending. In these cases, an extra syllable is added when we pronounce the words. This group is the easiest because if the word has a T or a D sound before the ED ending, we pronounce the extra syllable. Here are some familiar examples.

wait waited

hate hated

download downloaded

need needed

Easy, right? Did you pronounce them correctly? Check with a website if you don’t know.

Special Note

There is one special note that I must make. English is a language with many exceptions to its rules. It is true for this rule also. There are a few words that do not follow the rule. they are adjectives and they are pronounced with the ED ending and not a T or a D. Here are 2 common exceptions.



The second one is sometimes pronounced with the ED ending and sometimes with just the D ending. It depends on the speaker, so you can choose how you want to pronounce it. The first word, “wicked,” is always pronounced with the ED ending.

Why 3 Groups”

I am sure that you want to know why we divide the words into the 3 groups. We do it because we want our tongues to do less work. For example, it is easier for an English speaker to say a D sound after R, because of the movements the tongue must make for the american R. this is also true when we think about the P sound, like in “tap.” When we want to add ED to this word, it is easier for the tongue to make a T sound just after the P: “tapped.” For group 3, the English speaker’s tongue does not have to work very hard to add an ED syllable after a D or T. But if a speaker wanted to follow the other rules, he/she would have to make 2 D sounds or 2 T sounds together. English tongues don’t want to do this. I know, English is a little bit lazy, but it means that you can be a little bit lazy too when you speak English.

Your Turn

Of course, now you have to practice. What verbs can you remember which require an ED ending? Which group are they in? Try to leave a comment with 3 verbs or adjectives with ED and tell me which pronunciation group they are in. Don’t forget to say why you think so.