Endings of words that use the suffix -ed are pronounced in 3 different ways in English – as an added –t or –d sound, or as an extra syllable, -id. It is actually quite easy to spot the difference between these different pronunciations, as this short explanation, with exercises, should demonstrate.
-ed endings with -t or –d sounds
Words usually ending with the following sounds add a –t sound when you add –ed:
K, S, Ch, Sh, F, P, Th
Examples include click – clicked (pronounced clickt), march – marched (pronounced marcht), stop – stopped (stopt).
Most words ending with other sounds add a –d sounds:
A, B, E, G, H, I , J, L, M, N, O, Q, R, U, V, W, X, Y, Z
Examples include earn – earned (pronounced earnd), turn – turned (turnd).
It is not really necessary to learn these lists, however, as the –t or –d sound should come quite naturally – when you try to say marched – marchd, it is likely to sound like marcht.
There is also some flexibility here, as is shown by the existence of some alternative spellings of verbs, such as learned and learnt, burned and burnt and earned and earnt – all of which have been used as acceptable alternative spellings (and pronunciations) in English.
-ed endings with the –id sound
The –ed ending adds an extra syllable to words when it is pronounced –id, which is actually more generally an unpronounced sound – the schwa. This pronunciation is used when –ed is added to words ending with either a –t or –d sound:
For example, land – landed (pronounced landid) and wait – waited (waitid).
This essentially means what you need to remember is D or T ending words add a syllable with –ed, other words simply add the d or t sound.
Exceptions to the rule
A number of words that fit into the –d pattern of pronunciation are actually pronounced with the extra syllable, -id form. These need to be learned separately.
It’s worth noting that some of these words can be pronounced in two forms – with an added –d sound or an added syllable, -id. Sometimes, the pronunciation can change the meaning. For example, learned, pronounced learnd is used as the past, or past participle, of to learn (I learned a new word today.), while learned, pronounced learnid (an extra syllable) is used as an adjective to mean educated.
Any questions, please let me know in the comments – otherwise check back here for updated articles, as I will follow this explanation with a few exercises to practice this understanding.