3 Fantastic Tips for Perfect Past Tense Pronunciation

by Ciaran Donnelly

Pronunciation is one of the most difficult aspects of learning the English language. However, when it comes to pronouncing the -ed sounds of the past tense, there are rules we can follow. Look at the tips below to achieve perfect past tense pronunciation.

Past Tense Pronunciation t d id Bestow Education

Tips to pronounce regular past tense endings

There are three different sounds. There is the /id/ sound, the /t/ sound, and the /d/ sound.

Past Tense Pronunciation: The /id/ sound

Firstly, there is the /id/ sound. For verbs ending with a /t/ or a /d/ sound, the -ed ending is pronounced /id/. Look at the below examples:

Past Tense Pronunciation id sound Bestow Education

Past Tense Pronunciation: The /t/ sound

Secondly, there is the /t/ sound. This can be a difficult sound to make so be patient when you are practicing. If the verb ends in a voiceless sound, such as /p/, /f/, /s/, /ʃ/, /ʧ/ or /k/, the past simple ending is pronounced /t/. For example, see below:

Past Tense Pronunciation t sound Bestow Education

Past Tense Pronunciation: The /d/ sound

Finally, there is the /d/ sound. For any other sounds that are not discussed above, you use the /d/ sound. Check out these examples:

Past Tense Pronunciation d sound Bestow Education

English past tense pronunciation explained

In English, there are voiced and unvoiced sounds.

The voiceless sounds before the /t/ sound in the past tense means that if you put your hand on your throat, your vocal chords won’t vibrate.

Put your hand on your throat and make the sound ‘sh’ (as in shout), ‘th’ (as in thing) or ‘s’ (as in silly). These are voiceless sounds.

Now say the letters ‘b’, ‘d’ or ‘n’. These are voiced sounds.

As you can feel, for the voiceless sounds your throat doesn’t vibrate, but for the voiced sounds, you can feel your vocal chords vibrate.

This will help you to choose the correct past tense pronunciation for -ed endings with the /t/ sound.


Reading a blog on the past tense sounds is useful. However, if you want to really improve your past tense pronunciation:

  1. Learn the verbs above and their pronunciation endings
  2. Record yourself practicing saying these verbs, listen to it so you can hear yourself and work on your pronunciation.

We hope you have found this blog useful. If you are determined to improve your English and take a high quality English lesson, look at our online English classes. If you have any comments or questions, please let us know below.

For further posts on pronunciation, take a look at Why Is It Difficult to Learn English or Difficult English Words to Pronounce or Understand.