he pronunciation of the past simple can be difficult for English language learners. Because each verb ends in ‘ed’ it is thought that each word is pronounced the same. But there are three distinct sounds. But after learning the rules, familiarizing yourself with them and then practicing the examples you will be able to pronounce them correctly.

This article will outline the three different sounds of the past simple regular verbs along with ways to practice these sounds. At the bottom of the article there is a link so that you can listen to a native English speaker reading the examples. This way you can listen to three sounds and practise saying each sentence out loud.

The 3 sounds are;

  1. /id/ e.g., wanted
  2. /t/ e.g., worked
  3. /d/ e.g., covered

1. /id/

We use this sound when the ‘ed’ is preceded by (t) or (d).

Pronouncing this the ‘e’ changes to an ‘i’. The /id/ sound is added as an extra syllable.

  • I started this job two years ago
  • He suggested the bar
  • I added the salt
  • We decided to do it
  • They visited her last week

2. /t/

This sound is used when ‘ed’ is preceded by all unvoiced sounds. (k), (p), (f), (s), (S), (tS)

  • I worked last week.
  • He helped me this morning.
  • You laughed all day.
  • He faxed the report.
  • She washed her hair.
  • We watched television.
  • She kissed me!

3. /d/

This is used for all voiced sounds.

  • I covered the food.
  • I played tennis on Sunday.
  • He offered me a raise.
  • I returned the book.

Practice

The original article contains sound recordings of every example. It can be found here – Past Simple Pronunciation of Regular Verbs with Recordings

The best way to practise is to say each of the sentences out loud. After a while the pronunciation will come naturally and you will be able to use the correct “ed” sound when you come across new words.

About the Author

Jack Askew is the head teacher and founder of JDAenglish, which offers private English one to one classes and group courses. All of the classes are online and are a great way to improve English speaking, listening, reading, writing and grammar skills. He also writes a blog at JDA English Blog.

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