3 English Rules You Didn't Learn in School! (Part II)

English is full of interesting or, depending on your perspective, frustrating, rules that native speakers follow without actually knowing!  But, they're very important for English learners to learn and know in order to reach their goals!  Today we'll look at the second of 3 rules that are very helpful, but that you may not truly "know" yet!:

Rule #2: When to pronounce /-ed/? 

Limited, Seasoned, Padded, Packed. In 2 of these words, we pronounce the /-ed/ at the end.  In one we pronounce a /-t/ and in another we pronounce /-d/.  How do we know when we should or shouldn't add an extra-syllable onto the end of the word to make it past tense when speaking English?  Luckily...There's a rule for that!

What's a Verb Stem and How Do I Find the Last Consonant?
Essentially, the rule above is pretty basic! It all depends on the last consonant in the verb stem, which is the main part of the verb that doesn't change: "To walk," "walking," "walked," "walks." In this case, in the verb stem is "walk," and the last consonant is "k."  

How Do I Know if It's Voiced or Unvoiced?
Now, we have to determine if the "k" is voiced or unvoiced, meaning if we use our vocal cords during it.  If we hold our fingers to the front of our throat we can tell if parts of a word are voiced or not (vowels are always voiced).  Let's try it!:

Try saying the following words while toughing the front of your throat to pick out which sounds are voiced or unvoiced:

You could probably tell that you never stopped using your vocal cords for "badge" and "wage," but you did not use your vocal cords at the beginning and, more importantly, the end of the the words "crack" and "paste." Consonants like "t" and "k" and "p" and "t" are unvoiced, while consonants like "g" and "d" and "b" and "w" are voiced. And, that's how we know when to replace "-ed" with a voiced "d" or an unvoiced "t" (or in the case of "pasted" the "ed"):


What About Verb Stems That End in Vowels?
Finally, we say the last consonant, and not last letter, because in some cases the last letter of a verb stem may be a vowel: e.g. "allude." Even though "allude" ends with a "-e," we can see the last consonant is a "d," so we do pronounce the "-ed" in "alluded."  In "fine," the last consonant is an "n," so in the past tense, we pronounce "fined" like "find." 

Hope that helps and feel free to comment with your questions or feedback!