IPA | UCT English Language Centre

How to Pronounce Regular Past Simple Verbs

Past simple regular verbs are so … simple… the verb is the same for everyone, just add –ed (I walked, He decided and They learned). The problem is; how do you say them?

I find that even upper-intermediate students are still unsure of how to pronounce these verbs.

The great thing is, unlike many seemingly illogical irregularities in English, in this case there are rules you can follow and even rely on to guide you when pronouncing verbs you have never heard of before.

Let’s look at how it works:

Follow the links to listen to how these verbs are pronounced. How is -ed pronounced for each? (the first option only)

There are three ways of pronouncing -ed

/t/, /Id/ and /d/

So how do you know which one to use?

Let’s look first at the smallest category where -ed is pronounced as /Id/.

ONE – These verbs end in the sounds /d/ and /t/ so pronounce –ed as /Id/ (note: it is an extra syllable)

Decide = Decided (Decide-id)

Wade = waded (wade-id)

Illustrate = Illustrated (Illustrate-id)

Skate = Skated (Skate-id)

Listen to them:




These words end in the SOUNDS:

Watch = watched (watcht)


Work = worked (workt)


Miss = missed (misst)


Laugh = laughed (laught)


Wish = wished (wisht)


Hope = hoped (hope-t)



There are six sounds in this category. When verbs end in these sounds, -ed is pronounced just as /t/ (note: no extra syllable).

Use this link to check the sounds of these verbs:


This is the last category and it’s the biggest, so don’t learn the list of sounds, just add /d/ to all verbs that are not from categories one or two.

But be careful not to add another syllable.

Listen to some examples here:

So now you know; test yourself by trying these verbs (that you may never have heard before) and check your pronunciation here:

Applauded / Amused / Hounded / Stoked / Explained / Dislocated / Poked / Reached / Stretched / Hissed / Illuminated / Screamed / Parched / Crammed / Pursed / Imploded / Cleaned / Impeached / Crafted / Crowded / Sealed / Raked / Grappled / Eloped …



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