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Hoping that you’ve already caught Parts 1 and 2…but if not, just start here with Part 3 and then you can circle back! The ED ending in American English is incredibly tough for non-native speakers. But don’t worry I’ve got you covered!
What happens to the T in wanted or parted? The ED endings in American English are absolutely crazy. We have rules but we don’t always follow them. Today, we’re going over rule 3 for the ED ending verbs. Don’t worry, if you missed one or two, you will not be lost here. These are the words where the ED ending adds not just an extra sound, but a full extra syllable. We’re going to make sure that you know how to integrate them smoothly and perfectly into your speech so you sound natural speaking in the past tense in American English.
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We did a deep dive on rule one. Final sounds in the infinitive is unvoiced, tt– like in walked. We did a deep dive on rule two. Final sound in the infinitive is voiced. The ED becomes dd– a D sound like in seemed. Now, we have one more rule, and it’s short. There are only two sounds involved: the last sound in the infinitive is T or D. Then the ED ending is not just an extra sound, but an extra syllable. Need. A one-syllable word becomes needed, a two-syllable word. Correct, a two-syllable word, becomes corrected, a three syllable word. This ending syllable is always unstressed.
Today, we’ll go deep on rule three. What exactly does it mean? What are all the cases, and how can you use this to sound more natural and relaxed speaking English?
With this extra syllable, we have the IH sound or you can think of it as the schwa, plus D. The ending D will always be a flap sound when it links into a word that begins with a vowel or diphthong. For example: ended up—
Ended up, ende-rarara– ended up, a quick flap of the tongue for that ED ending. Let’s look at another example: acted on—becomes: acted on, acted on, acted on. That flap of the tongue. At the end of a thought group, or when the next word begins with a consonant, that will usually be an unreleased D. Ddd– That means we make a sound in the vocal cords for the D but we don’t release it, dd– it’s just dd– for example: it ended. End of my thought group, I didn’t release the d. It ended. Ddd— That vibrating of the vocal cords for that voiced sound, ended.
Now if it links into a word that begins with a consonant, we’ll also make that unreleased sound. Ended my, ended my, so it’s not ended my, ended, ended. We don’t release it. It’s ended my, ended my, ended my. Releasing the D. Ended my, ended my, just a little bit extra. We don’t want to make that much of the D so we vibrate the vocal chords but then go on to the next sound. Now if the next word is you or you’re, you might hear the ending become a J sound. Ended your, ended your.
Great. But now let’s look at some cases that affect the T or D at the end of the infinitive. So not the ED ending but the T at the end of the word ‘heat’ for example. Heat, id, does not equal heated, because the rule for the T is that if it comes between two vowel or diphthong sounds, it’s a flap T. So it’s not tt–heated, that’s a true T, it’s heated, dadadada– heated, heated. So any word where there’s a vowel or diphthong plus T and then an ED ending, that’s a flap T. Heated, dated, noted, weighted. Dadadada– All Flap t’s.
The flap T rule also applies when the sound before was an R, so R plus T plus vowel or diphthong is a flap T. That means all the RT,ED ending words have a flap T like: pardon, par-da– par-dada– pardon. Pardon. Alerted dadada– alertuh– alerted.
And this is also true for the D. A D between vowels or after an R before a vowel or diphthong is a flap. So for example, in the word ‘boarded’ boar– dadadada– that D at the end of the infinitive is a flap. Boarded. Worded. Worded.
What would it sound like if it wasn’t a flap, but a real D with the stop and the release? Ddd– that would sound like this: worded. Worded. Worded.
It’s too much D, we make a flap. Worded. Graded. Flap sound. Let’s look at another case. The sound before the T of the word in the infinitive is an N. We might drop that T. We do that in the NT combination sometimes like in the word ‘interview’. It’s very common to drop that T. So let’s look at the word want, past tense, with the ED ending, wanted, but it’s actually very common to drop the T sound in that word, and it becomes wanted, wanted, this pronunciation is more common than the pronunciation with the T. Let’s go to Youglish for examples.
Wanted. Each one with no T sound at all. Isn’t this interesting? It’s the T at the end of want that puts this into rule three because the final sound is the T, but we don’t even say that. This is true also of the word counted, you’ll often hear that T dropped, counted.
There will definitely be cases where you hear the T in ‘counted’ but often not. Pointed is another word where usually, the T will be dropped. I pointed out the mistake: pointed out, pointed out, no T. What about the word planted becoming planted? Now I listened to a bunch of examples, there it does seem to be more common to actually say the T sound than to drop it, planted. But even that one can go either way. Planted or planted.
What about ND plus ED ending? We never drop that D. Ended. If we dropped it it would be ended, and that would sound very strange to us, so ended, ended, bonded, we don’t drop the D. In the other ending clusters, we do say the T or D. For example the PT ending, prompt, or interrupt. We do say that T when we add on the ED. Prompted. Interrupted. Ted, ted, ted. A light true T. Acted. Lifted. Folded. We say the D in fold. Folded. Ded. Folded.
And those are the cases for rule three. Wow. When you add up all these videos, we’ve been talking about ED endings for well over 30 minutes. Things just aren’t as simple as they seem.
Now, let’s test your memory for the main three rules. Is the ED ending a T sound, a D sound, or an extra syllable?
Here’s your first word. Is it agreet, agreed, or agree-ed? The final sound on the word when it’s in the infinitive is a vowel, that’s voiced, so it’s rule three, a D sound. Agreed.
What about this word? Is it bombet, bombed, or bomb-ed? The last sound is voiced, it’s not a T or a D, therefore it’s rule two, a D sound: bombed.
What about this word? Is it talket, talked, or talk-ed? The last sound of the word in the infinitive is unvoiced. Therefore the ending is unvoiced, T, talked, now let’s listen to a bunch of examples for rule 3, ED endings. Some of them will have a dropped T, some of them will have a flap. Get used to simplifying and linking these words into the next words.
First, you’ll hear a phrase. Then you’ll hear just the two-word link like ‘counted my’ in slow motion, several times, repeat the last time, the third time. Repeat that slow motion link. It’s important not to just learn something but to actually train it, to speak out loud to get used to it.
Now you could prepare a lecture on how to pronounce ED endings. There are so many details involved, aren’t there? The playlist for all three of these videos is here for your reference. You may find that you want to watch them several times to really get all the rules and pronunciations into your brain.
Thanks so much for sticking with me. 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 next week to watch more, I love being your English teacher. That’s it and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.