The ‘-ED’ Endings

‘-ED’ Endings

The English language has a number of inflectional endings- these endings are groups of letters added to the end of a word to change its meaning, or more specifically, assign it a particular grammatical property. They have spelling and pronunciation rules that are helpful for a developing reader to know. The first ending we teach is the ‘ed’ ending, which is used to make most verbs past tense.

The Nuances of ‘-ED’ Endings

Reading and Speaking

It is important for reading students to know that this syllable does not often sound the way it looks. Rather than saying /ed/, the ‘ed’ ending makes the sound /t/ as in “walked,” /d/ as in “saved,” or /id/ as in “lifted.” Our language also has several irregular verbs, which do not change to past tense by merely adding an ending; they change to a different word altogether. For example, the word “run” doesn’t become “runned.” It changes to “ran.” Most native English speakers will make these changes automatically when speaking.


Our students learn that in order to correctly spell past-tense verbs with this ending, they need to pay close attention to the spelling of the base word. There are two challenging parts of the ‘-ED’ ending to remember: when to double a consonant and what to do if a base word ends in ‘y.’

The final consonant of a word is doubled if the vowel in the base word says its sound (short vowel sound) and is followed by a single consonant (rub/rubbed). The doubling does not occur, for example, when the vowel in the base word is saying its name (long vowel sound) and is followed by a single consonant (need/needed or save/saved).

How do you make a verb ending in ‘y’ past tense? If the base word ends in ‘y,’ look at the letter before ‘y.’ A base word ending with a vowel before the ‘y’ is changed to past tense simply by adding ‘ed’ (employ/employed). A base word that ends with a consonant before the ‘y’ needs to change ‘y’ to ‘i’ before adding ‘ed’ (fry/fried).


Examples of Spelling Different ‘-ED’ Endings

In general, just add ‘ed,’

walk to walked

If the base word ends in ‘e,’ add only ‘d’

save to saved

If the vowel says its sound and there is a single consonant after, double the consonant

hop to hopped (compare to hoped)

If the base word ends in vowel+’y,’ add ‘ed’

play to played

If the base word ends in consonant+’y,’ change ‘y’ to ‘i’ and add ‘ed’

cry to cried