ed rule in spelling

This language lesson is designed for 6 to 12-year-old children. This video lesson aims to guide them about the ED rule in spelling generalization.

The spelling generalization rule of ED is a fantastic way to help the children begin and support the understanding of verbs and tenses. Comprehending this rule would make the child well aware of the spellings and change of sounds after adding ‘ed’ at the end of the words.

In our last video lesson, we learned the ‘y rule’ in spelling generalization. In this video, we will learn about different combinations of words that follow the ‘ed’ rules.

To learn the ED rule, it is better that a child understands the voiced and unvoiced consonants, and the concept of tenses and verbs. In this video, the child learns the different sounds of ‘ed’ and the various types of words you can make from it.

What is the ED Rule for Spelling?

The suffix ‘ed’ is added to words to make the past tense of the verb. The pronunciation of ed depends on the last sound of the base verb that precedes ‘ed’.  And here, it is important to remember that the child needs to focus on the last sound of the verb and not the last letter.

There are 3 different types of words that follow ed rules: 

  • Past tense verbs such as played, lived, rained, and cooked.
  • Past participles such as played, worked, snowed.
  • Adjectives such as bored, tired, relaxed.

The ‘ed’ sound rule states three different pronunciations for the verbs.

  • The general rule: Just simply add ‘ed’ after the verb or word to make it past tense. For example, played, waited, worked, and cooked.
  • The verbs that end with the sound of /t/ or /d/ they make the past tense by adding ‘ed’. Here, ‘ed’ is pronounced as /ɪd/. For example – rented, handed.
  • For the verb that ends with a voiced consonant and is not /d/ then we add ‘ed’ to make it past tense and here the suffix ‘ed’ is pronounced as /d/. The sound /d/ blends with the previous consonant, so we don’t need an extra syllable. For example – banged, ended, buzzed.
  • For the verb that ends with an unvoiced consonant and is not /t/ then we add ‘ed’ to make it past tense and here the suffix ‘ed’ is pronounced as /t/. Here also, the sound of /t/ blends with the previous consonant, and hence, no extra syllable is needed. For example – jumped, missed, and fished.

Words with ED rule

The following words should be read based on ED rule

  • Flood + ed = flooded
  • Paint + ed = painted
  • Want + ed = wanted

The above words end with the sound of /d/ and /t/, hence, ‘ed’ is added to make past tense and sounds as /ɪd/.

  • Clean + ed = cleaned
  • Serve + ed = served
  • Tag + ed = tagged

In the above words, the verb ends with a voiced consonant and hence, ‘ed’ is pronounced as /d/

  • Tap + ed = tapped
  • Laugh + ed = laughed
  • Stop + ed = stopped
  • Wash + ed = washed

Here, the verb ends with an unvoiced consonant and hence ‘ed’ is pronounced as /t/

ED Rule Exception

There is always an exception to the rules. Here are some exceptions to the ED rule.

  1. When a word ends with the sound of a consonant but has the letter e (silent e) in the end, then we add only ‘d’ to that verb to make it a past tense. For example –
  • Guide + ed = guided
  • Brave + ed =braved
  • Live + ed = lived

Here the words will follow the ‘ed; rule by adding only the letter d at the end.

  1. When words end with CVC (Consonant – Vowel – Consonant) and the final syllable is stressed, we double the final consonant and add ‘ed’. For example-
  • Stop + ed = stopped
  • Admit + ed = admitted
  • Plan + ed = planned

Here, the words will follow by doubling the consonant and adding ‘ed’ in the end.

  • In two-syllable verbs ending in a vowel + consonant + vowel (CVC), we do not double the final consonant as the last syllable is not stressed. For example-
  • Happen + ed = happened
  • Offer + ed = offered
  • Suffer + ed = suffered

Here, there are two or more syllables and the final syllable is not stressed. Thus, used only ed in the end.

  • When the final consonant of the words ends with letters w, x and y, the final syllable is not stressed, and we add ‘ed’ in the end. For example-
  • Play + ed = played
  • Straw + ed = strawed
  • Fix + ed = fixed
  1. When the word ends with vowel and letter l, do not double the l unless stressed.
  • Equal + ed = equaled
  • Control + ed = controlled
  • Travel + ed = traveled

Common words with ED Rules

  • Words that make the sound of /ɪd/ – collaborated, reacted, waited, flooded, knitted.
  • Words that make the sound of /d/ – determined, explored, enjoyed, saved, flowed, hogged.
  • Words that make the sound of /t/ – looked, watched, jumped, winked, washed.

ED Spelling Rule Reading Readiness

To understand the ED rule thoroughly, allow the child to first practice words with syllables, voiced, and unvoiced consonants. The following questions will be helpful in deciding which spelling should be used:

  • What is the last sound of the word?
  • Is the last sound voiced?
  • Is the last sound unvoiced?
  • Is the last sound d or t?

Follow the ED generalization rule as mentioned above. Introduce different activities and reading to help the child understand the ED rule.

Activities to Help the Child Understand the ED Generalization Rule.

  • Prepare a chart with regular verbs. Allow the children to read the verbs aloud and determine the end sound. Once the child is sure of the voiced, unvoiced, d or t sounds, then let them pronounce the past tense of the verb with an ‘ed’ ending.  
  • If a child is not sure of a voiced or unvoiced consonant, then let them place their fingers on the side of their neck and feel for the vibration that occurs when they say voiced consonants.
  • A game can be played in groups of 2 or 4 children. Let one child say a verb and the other will guess its end sound and determine the final sound after adding ed.
  • An educator can also spell words or write words and ask questions to the students as why it has the sound of /ɪd/, /d/ or /t/. This would help them comprehend their knowledge of generalization rules.

Note–The educator needs to remind the child to use the final sound and not the final letter when deciding between a voiced or unvoiced -ed ending.

Repeat this activity by asking the child to practice the spelling generalization with different words of the English language.

Watch the video and allow the child to practice the ED spelling generalization with different words of the English language. This helps to instill confidence in forming the right spelling and doubling the last letter.


What is a voiced and unvoiced sound?

When we speak, and the vocal cords vibrate, then it is called a voiced sound. We can feel our throats vibrate a little. Pronounce the letters like m, b, l, v, r, and vowels. The vocal cord vibrates and hence these are voiced sounds.

When we speak, and vocal cords do not vibrate, then it is called an unvoiced sound. We just push air around when we pronounce unvoiced sounds. Letters like p, k, f have unvoiced sounds, and blends like ch, and sh are voiced sounds.

When you talk, place your palm on your throat to identify the difference.

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Video Created by: Justine McNeilly


  • elementary level
  • english language
  • language development