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ED pronunciation: watched [t], buzzed [d], wanted [ɪd] – Did you know the –ed ending is COMPLETELY DROPPED in some cases? Learn the pronunciation rules for the –ed endings: the past tense of regular verbs. But beyond the rules, learn the real pronunciation that Americans use for accent training that really works.
I made a mistake. Years ago, I made a video about ED ending verbs, an accent training video, I went over the rules. But not how Americans actually say these words in sentences. Don’t make the same mistake I made. There are rules but when it comes to accent training, you need to know how Americans actually pronounce these ED endings in various situations, in various sentences.
Sometimes the ED ending is completely dropped. So there’s a good chance you’re over pronouncing the ends of these words. With this fix, you’ll sound more natural and understand Americans better. And you’ll have an easier time speaking english. We’re going to go to youglish and look through tons of examples together, so you know you’re getting what native speakers actually do.
As always, if you like this video, or you learned something new, please give it a thumbs up and subscribe with notifications, it helps a lot. Thank you so much.
There are very few rules in American English pronunciation that don’t have a lot of exceptions. But there are actually some useful rules when it comes to ED endings. We’ll go over these, but first, I just want to point out that a lot of the most common verbs are irregular, which means the past tense doesn’t add an ED. I do becomes I did, I go becomes I went, and so on.
If you’re at this level of english, you already know a lot of these. And you probably learned something wrong about the regular past tense, the pronunciation of ED endings.
There are three rules. The first one is: if the sound before the ED ending is unvoiced, then the EDending becomes a T. Worked, for example. The K sound is unvoiced. Kk– that means only air makes the sound, not a vibration of the vocal cords, kk–. So for an unvoicED ending the ED is also unvoiced, tt– tt– the T sound is unvoiced. Worked. Worked. You probably learned that. Worked. And you learned that pronunciation with that true T. Okay, let’s go to Youglish where we can hear some Americans saying this word, worked, with that tt– T sound following the rules of pronunciation.
We’re going to do a search on the phrase ‘worked for’, worked for, in American English.
So then one of the two adults who worked for the program said–
Worked for the program. Wait, I didn’t hear that. Did you? I didn’t hear worked for the program. I didn’t hear that T: ttt— I heard work for the program. Let’s listen again.
So then one of the two adults who worked for the program said–
Let’s try it in slow motion. If we slow it down here, do we hear the T?
Two adults who work for the program said–
Work for the, work for the, work for the.
There’s no T, it sounds like the present tense work for. I work for them. But it’s past tense, and we know that because she’s telling a story about something that happened to her in the past.
All right, well, let’s listen to another one. Are we hearing the T in worked?
My dad worked.
Okay, there he said: worked. Let’s listen to that in a full sentence.
You know, he worked for chrysler–
Oh no! When he put the word in the sentence, he dropped the T again. What’s going on? Well, in american english, it’s pretty common to drop a T when it comes between two consonants. This happens for example in the word exactly. Most Americans won’t say that T. Exactly. They’ll say: exactly, dropping the T sound.
Or on the phrase: just because, most Americans will drop that T because it comes between two consonants. And we’ll say: just because– jus be– right from the S to the B with no T.
So this can happen with these ED endings. As we go through all the rules for ED endings in this video, we’re going to look at not just the rules, but what actually happens when Americans speak. So you’re getting effective accent training.
So rule one was: unvoiced ending, ED is pronounced like a t. Tt–
Rule two: if the ending of the word in the infinitive is voiced, the ED ending will also be voiced, which is a D.
Let’s go to Youglish to find some examples. We’ll look at the phrase: opened the–
Oh no, it happened again. Opened the door– became open the door, with no D sound, even though it was in the past tense, even though in english, it would absolutely be written with that ED ending. Let’s listen in slow motion.
Nope. No d. We’ll talk more about this D later but, for now, let’s go and look at the third rule for ED endings. If the final sound is D or T, the ED ending adds not just an extra sound like ttt or ddd, but an extra syllable. You can think of this as being IH as in sit or schwa plus D. And it’s said very quickly, it’s unstressed.
So need becomes needed. That last syllable, always unstressed, said quickly. Needed, ded ded ded. Needed.
So we’re learning these three rules. Worked, opened, and needed. And we’re also learning how these endings might change when part of a sentence. Let’s go into more detail about rule one. ED is T after an unvoiced sound. These are all of the unvoiced sounds in american english. But we’ve already said that T goes with rule three. Also there are no words that end in the H sound. Plenty of words that end in the letter but none that end in the sound that I know of, so for our ending sound for rule one, we have: ch– ff– kk– pp– ss– sh– and thFor all of the words in this category, if the ED word is at the end of the sentence, you will pronounce that T. How did you get there? I walked. Walked. With a light release of the T sound. For all of the words in this category, if the ED word is linking into a word that begins with a vowel or diphthong, you will lightly release the T into that word, connecting the two words, for example, walked a lot, walked a lot, walked a– tuh tuh tuh. The T linking into the schwa.
But if the next begins with a consonant, many times, a native speaker will drop the T sound. Let’s look at each of the possibilities. We’ll start with the CH like in the word watched, in the phrase: I watched the best movie last night. I watched the best– watch the best– I watched the best movie last night.
Now let’s play me saying that phrase in slow motion, you won’t hear a T: I watched the best movie last night. To fully pronounce the T, it would sound like this: watched the, watched the. I watched the best movie last night. I watched the best movie last night. And that’s just not as natural as: I watched the best movie last night. Dropping the T.
Now, do you have to drop the T? Will every american always drop the T between two consonants? No. I’m sorry. This is one of the things where sometimes Americans will do it, and sometimes they won’t, but just knowing about it is going to help you understand what’s happening in American English conversation.
And you’re going to hear a lot of examples in this video that will help you feel more comfortable dropping the T in these ED ending words so that you can sound more natural too.
We’re going to go to youglish and we’re going to listen to two people saying the phrase: watch the– the, the first time, you’ll hear a T dropped, no T at all, and then not.
Watched the original– I didn’t hear a T there. Let’s listen in slow motion.
Okay, no T. Here’s an example though where there’s a clear T in the phrase ‘watched the’.
Watched the– so this one can go either way. The thing you don’t want to do is drop the T but then not connect it to the next word, you do want to connect. Them you can only get by with dropping that T if you connect. But even when we say this T, remember, it’s not tt– watched. It’s got less energy than that. Watched ttt— watched the– a very light T.
Next, the unvoiced sound f. Let’s link it into a vowel. Stuffed a– stuffed a– stuffed a–
Light true T connecting. Let’s look at stuffed the– where the next sound is a consonant. I stuffed the blanket into the bag. Stuffed the– I went to Youglish and I heard both pronunciations, with the light T release and then also dropped. Let’s listen to some. Here, it’s dropped.
And here it is lightly pronounced.
I’m not sure uh if you guys stuffed the box. Stuffed the– stuffed the–
The k sound, like in kicked, I kicked it, linking into a vowel, we do a light T release. Kicked it– ttt— when the next sound is a consonant like kicked the– I kicked the ball. This can go either way. Here’s an example where it’s dropped.
The girl who kicked the hornet’s nest, the last book in the trilogy.
And here’s one where it’s not dropped.
While we kicked the can down the road kicked the kicked
But I want to say I listened to about samples on youglish of ‘kicked the’ and I only found one or two where the T was pronounced. Also in these samples, I found a lot of them were in the phrase: kick the can down the road. This is an idiom that means to deal with a problem, or make a decision later. For example, let’s say my car broke down, it’s an old car and I probably need to buy a new one, but I don’t know what to get, and I don’t have a lot of money, so I kicked a can down the road and just got this one fixed. I know eventually, I’ll have to face the problem and replace the car but for now, I’m going to kick the can down the road.
Next, P, like in the word hoped, hoped, I hoped it would get better. Hoped it– ttt– light release of the T, linking into a vowel. Let’s look at ‘hoped that’. Now the T is between two consonants, and that sound might get dropped in spoken english. I found quite a few examples of both dropped and pronounced. Here’s one where it’s dropped.
And here’s one where it’s not dropped.
Sometimes, I sense my students panic when there are two ways to do something. Are there cases where it’s right and cases where it’s wrong? Not really. Both dropped and pronounced T will work. But my students don’t have to want to make a decision in the moment. Sometimes, that’s stressful, so just pick. In general, you’ll pronounce it lightly or you won’t. I think for a lot of my students, dropping it makes it a little easier, makes linking easier. You’ll hear native speakers do both but you find the one that’s right for you.
You know, as I think of it there is one more point we need to discuss for all of these rule 1 ED endings. When a word ends in a T sound, which all of these do, and it’s followed by you or your, that T can be turned into a ch. For example, helped you can become helped you, helped you. Does that sound familiar? Helped you. Helped you. Let’s listen to an example.
Helped you? Helped you? Ch— so you can hear this ch for any of these words. For example, missed, which you’ll study next, ‘missed your’ can become: missed your– missed your– let’s listen to an example.
Missed your– okay, let’s look at the S sound like in the word missed. If the next sound is a vowel or diphthong, you’ll hear the T, linking in like in the phrase ‘missed it’ ttt–
Or if it’s at the end of the sentence, you’ll hear the T. You’ll be missed, missed. But followed by a consonant. Let’s look at the example: missed the– missed the–
Now when I just said those two words together, it was really natural for me to drop that T. Missed the– that’s what I want to do. Missed the– miss that–
When I search for ‘missed the’ on Youglish, almost all had the dropped T. So it actually just sounds like the present tense ‘missed the’. Let’s go to younglish, you tell me if you hear the T.
Did you hear the T for the past tense? Listen again.
Everybody missed the boat that way I miss the mist
No it’s not there. Dropped T here is so natural. Now here’s one where we will hear the t.
In both of these cases, we heard the idiom to miss the boat. It means to miss your chance to do something, to miss an opportunity. For example, my mom invited me on a trip, but I took too long to decide if I wanted to go, and she invited someone else. I missed the boat. I decided I really wanted to go, so I was bummed about it. Sh. Let’s use the word push, followed by a vowel or diphthong, you will hear the T linking in: pushed a– pushed a– tt–he pushed a kid at school.
But followed by a consonant, like in ‘pushed the’. If I say that fast in a sentence, he pushed the wrong button, I will probably drop that T. I just listened to Youglish and almost everyone there dropped the T in ‘pushed the’. Maybe 90%. Here’s an example.
And here’s one where he does say the t. Pushed the.
Let’s look at the unvoiced TH like in the word unearthed. If followed by a vowel or diphthong, you’ll hear a light T: we unearthed another clue. Unearthed another, ttt–
To unearth means to dig something out of the earth, but it also means to discover something, something that had been hidden, lost or kept secret. For example: I unearthed a secret from my father’s past. If followed by a consonant, it can be dropped. I listened to a lot of examples and most of the time it was dropped. Here’s one.
And here’s one where it wasn’t dropped.
So my conclusion with ED endings rule one is this: when it links into a word that begins with another consonant, it’s most common to drop the T, which then sounds just like the present tense. But don’t worry about that. Everyone will know what you mean because of the context. Because you’re speaking about something that happened in the past. Now, let’s have you train with some of these rule one cases with a dropped T to make that feel more comfortable. First, you’ll hear a phrase. Then you’ll hear just the two word link. Miss my– miss my– in slow motion, two times, repeat the second time.
It’s important not to just learn something but to actually train it, speak out loud, get used to it.
You know, we went through all the rules for the ED endings, but we really only got to talk about rule one in depth. We’ll come back at you in a few weeks with another video on rule two, and then later with a video on rule three. We’ll go into detail. You’ll know exactly how these past tense verbs should be pronounced, when a sound is dropped. While you wait for those videos, be sure to check out this video next. Also, check out my online courses at Rachel’s English Academy, you’ll become a more confident english speaker. I make new videos every tuesday, be sure to come back to watch more. I love being your english teacher. That’s it and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.