Cheat sheet #1 – Past Simple -ed endings

So many students have problems remembering how to properly spell and pronounce the ending of past simple verbs. But do not worry, it is really very simple and we will show you how.

Firstly, this rule does not apply to irregular verbs.

Examples of irregular verbs and their past equivalent
go went
see saw
have had
take took
drive drove

As you can see there are no set rules for these verbs and they have to be memorised. This will happen naturally as you learn English as most irregular verbs are quite common.

*Click here for a link to a full list of irregular verb patterns.

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Most verbs add -ed to the end of the word.

Multi-syllable verbs and those ending in a vowel simply add -ed. Even many one-syllable verbs (longer than three letters) end simply by adding -ed.

visit visited
play played
sail sailed
want wanted
smack smacked


If it is a short hard verb that ends in a single consonant, then you usually need to add the last consonant as well as -ed.

stop stopped
hop hopped
rob robbed
grab grabbed
jot jotted


If the verb already ends in -e, you just add -d.

love loved
hate hated
like liked


If the verb ends in -y, we change it to -i and add -ed.

carry carried
marry married
worry worried


Generally, those are the rules in an easy to understand way, and you will learn the rest by experience. Now go out and find exceptions!



More students struggle with pronunciation than with spelling, but again I am going to simplify things into an easy to understand system. At the end, I will explain how you do not even need to remember these lists, they are just to help you understand.

If you are not aware of the phonetic alphabet, look here, where I write in /—/ is the sound of the word, not the spelling. In fact, spelling is irrelevant here, and only the sound is important.

Words ending with hard, consonant sounds


Words ending with soft, vocal sounds


Words ending in /-t/ or /-d/



































Practise saying these sets of words while you hold your hand on your throat. If it vibrates at the end of the word then it’s vocal, and belongs in the second column. If it does not then it belongs in the first column. However, try saying the words with both /-t/ and /-d/ and you will probably see that the difference is very small.

Therefore, the only important rule to remember is:

/tɪd/ and /dɪd/

Written by James R. McCance for Aston School

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