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ELC - English Language Center Boston
English Pronunciation July 19th, 2014

Pronunciation of a second language can take a lot of practice. A speaker’s native tongue comes naturally without any thought. What many people don’t realize is the amount of muscle and joint movement involved with speaking. Fun fact: the most used joint in the human body is the mandibular (jaw) joint because we talk, talk, talk, talk, talk!  Say the word “pronounce” slowly. Notice all the different movements of your jaw, tongue, and lips.  This is why pronunciation can be so difficult! There are many fine motor placements just in one word.  In order to improve with pronunciation you need to practice! It seems silly, and might make you look a little insane, but speaking out loud to yourself is a great way to improve a speaker’s articulation. Just like any motor activity, such as riding a bike, pronunciation gets easier with time and practice. To build the muscle memory of a second language it is very important to practice speaking. But, my friends, there are some pronunciation tricks that can make your life a little easier! This tip I am sharing with you involves the past tense ending –ed.

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Just to make your life a little difficult, the past tense –ed has three different pronunciations: /t/, /d/, and /?d/. The schwa /?/ is an vowel sound. It sounds like “uh”, or the a in alone.  But when do you use each sound?

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The final –ed is pronounced as /t/ after voiceless sounds. Pushing air through your mouth makes voiceless sounds. If you touch your throat you will not feel any vibrations.

Voiceless sound examples: /f/, /s/, /p/, and /k/.

Laughed –> laugh/t/

Missed –> miss/t/

Clapped –> clap/t/

Baked –> bake/t/

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The final –ed is pronounced as /d/ after voiced sounds. Voiced sounds are made in your throat. If you touch your throat when making this sound you will feel a vibration. Some examples of voiced Voiced sound examples:  /v/, /l/, /b/, /g/, and all vowel sounds.

Moved –> move/d/

Smelled –> smell/d/

Robbed –> rob/d/

Jogged –> jog/d/


The final –ed is pronounced as /?d/ after /t/ and /d/ sounds. The sound /?d/ adds a whole syllable to a word.

Needed –> need/?d/

Invited –> invite/?d/

Decided –> decide/?d/

Wanted –> want/?d/

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Now take your pronunciation tip and practice! Soon enough the muscle memory will build and you won’t have to think about the rules at all.