Pronouncing the Past Tense of Regular Verbs

Last week there was an article about Regular Verbs and Their Spelling.  The main spelling rule is that the past tense of all regular verbs ends with -ed.

However, the -ed ending is pronounced differently in different words…

 worked – sounds like workt   (just one syllable)
 cleaned – sounds like cleand  (just one syllable)
 started – sounds like startid  (2 syllables)

How do you know which sound to use?
Feel your throat while you say a sound.

For some sounds (‘voiced’ sounds like n, d, and m) you will feel vibration ().  For other sounds (‘unvoiced’ sounds like t, k, and p) you will not feel vibration.
Now feel your throat while you pronounce a regular verb (like work, clean, start) and notice the last sound of the word (work, clean, start)

  1. If the last sound was unvoiced (as in work), pronounce the -ed sound as a t
    worked > /workt/; stopped > /stopt/
  2. If the last sound was voiced (as in clean), pronounce the -ed as a d
    cleaned > /cleand/; called > /calld/
  3. But – if the last sound was a t or d sound, pronounce the -ed as id (which adds a syllable)
    started > /startid/; loaded > /loadid/

Pronouncing Someone’s Name

If you don’t know how to pronounce someone’s name, or you have difficulty repeating their name, here is some help.

One good place to listen to the common pronunciation of many names is YouGlish.

  • Type in the name (first name or last name)
  • Choose “US”  to see only videos using American English
  • Below the video, you can change the speed to “slower”, to listen more carefully
  • Listen to the name pronounced as part of several videos

For example:


Try to pronounce these names by yourself, and then try them in YouGlish, above:
Elijah, Genevieve, Zachariah, Reynolds, Holmes

Finally, if you would just like to hear the pronunciation of a lot of common names, you can try these:

Can My Phone Understand Me?

  Smartphones can listen to you speak, and display your words.  So can iPads and computers.  If your phone can understand you, other people will probably understand you.

Practice your speech on iPhone or iPad

  • Open the Notes App    and create a new note     
  • Press the Microphone icon next to the Space Bar on the keyboard
  • Start talking – and see what words are shown
  • Are they the same words that you spoke?  If not, try again.

Practice on Android phone or tablet

  • Install the Google Keyboard app from Google Play
  • Then open your email or memo app, or use a free notes app like Evernote
  • Press the Microphone icon next to the Space Bar on the keyboard
  • Start talking – and see what words are shown
  • Are they the same words that you spoke?  If not, try again.

When your phone can understand you, you can use your voice for … email, text messages, Siri questions on iPhones (“Hey Siri“), Google searches (“OK Google“), Alexa, and more.

Google Translate

On iPhones or Android phones, you can also use the Google Translate app (Android; Apple) for this.

  • Make sure the language is set to English
  • Press the microphone button and start speaking

YouGlish – Listen to “Real” Pronunciation

youglish  Are there words – or groups of words –  that are are especially difficult for you to pronounce, or understand, in English?  “uncomfortable”; “sixth”; “how much does this cost”; “what are you going to do”?

On you can type in those words, and then listen to how they are said – as part of conversation – by many different people in YouTube videos.  Try it below.  (Press the  button to go to the next video.)

Numbers! is a very good little website to help you learn and practice… English numbers!

Small numbers, large numbers, and numbers of all kinds – such as the name of years (2018), months, dates, fractions, math equations, decimals, and percentages.

There are listening exercises where you can see if you understand the numbers correctly.

This works best on your computer, but it mostly works on your phone/tablet.