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The End of the Verb as We Know It: ed endings

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I am one of the Help Center teachers, and twice in the past month
I've answered student questions about pronouncing -ed endings.
This is something that is difficult for a lot of students, but there
actually is a fairly simple set of rules that can be really
eye-opening for students. This activity helps them learn the

Before class, put regular verbs on a bunch of index cards. Make sure
to have many different ending sounds. For a beginning class, you can use
words like "walk" "need" or "stop." For advanced classes, you can use
words like "negotiate" "coordinate" or "supervise." The number of cards
you make will depend on the students, although you'll probably need
at least 25.

Explain (with one or two examples) that there are 3 ways to pronounce
verbs that end in -ed: with the -ed as an extra syllable that sounds
like "id"; with a "t" sound added to the end of the word but no extra
syllable (example: we say walked to sound like walkt, not walk-ed),
or with a "d" sound added to the end of the word, again with no extra
syllable (example: teased sounds like teazd, not teaz-ed). Students
will sort their pile of cards, then either write them on the board in
three columns or tape them up to the wall in three columns.

Next, go over each and every word to make sure that they are in the
right place. Students can all pronounce the word with you. Move any
cards that are in the wrong place. (It's good to set up a key ahead
of time so you don't confuse yourself!)

Once everything is in the right place, have students see if they notice
any patterns. This is how it works out:
Words ending in t or d sounds add the extra syllable (id)
Words ending in voiceless/unvoiced consonants (f, t, s, k p, ch..)
will end in a "t" sound (no extra syllable)
All other words end with just a "d" sound, no extra syllable. (includes
v, th voiced, d, z, g, b...)

Follow up: I usually have advanced students practice with other words,
often ones taken from a career guide (Action Verbs to use in your
resume!). There's a new book out called Jobs that Don't
Suck which has a very good (although advanced) list of "power verbs"
in sentences like those you would find on a resume.

--Karin Abell
Carrboro, NC

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