Posted in Pronunciation Classes

Pronunciation: Regular verbs in past simple


This is a handout listing the three pronunciation types of regular verbs:!265&authkey=!AI73yyOE0jOwaD4

First go through the three different types.

Tell students to put one hand on their throat and talk so that they can feel their vocal cords vibrating. Then tell the students to start saying some of the regular verbs from the list in their BASE FORM for example: watch, arrive.

Ask them to keep saying “watch” and “arrive” and think about the difference in vocal cord vibrations between the two.

If they don’t notice it explain to them that “watch” finishes with a voiceless sound (no vocal cords, just sound made with the mouth) verbs that finish with a voiceless sound (the handout lists the different spellings of these verbs) have a particular pronunciation in the past simple; a “t” sound: watched (watcht)

“arrive” however, ends in a voiced sound (using the vocal cords to make the “v” sound) so it’s pronunciation is different; a “d” sound: arrived

The difference between these two sounds can be difficult for students and needs a lot of practice. Especially in Spain it can take an eternity to iron out the “Edd” sound caused by Spanish speakers reading English phonetically, as they do their own language. Yesterday I play-ED football and watch-ED TV. So it takes frequent practice. Take special care to practice the pronunciation in a complete sentence on not focus on individual words; students can say “watcht watcht watcht watcht watcht, yesterday I watch-ED TV.”

The last group is easier to grasp; words ending in “d” or “t” have the sound “id” in the past simple: needed (need-ID). Though you are guaranteed to have a classroom full of students clutching their throats saying “wait, need, want” trying to work out if it should be a “t” or a “d” sound so it’s better to put them out of their misery early, maybe it’s better to explain the 3rd group first.


Barcelona based English Teacher, blogger and sometime actor and director.

One thought on “Pronunciation: Regular verbs in past simple

  1. Thank you very much for the lesson plan above. This is real cool and a great need to differentiate the sounds…now I understand why there should be /t/, /d/, and /id/ sounds. Thank you.

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