I believe a verb that ends with "v" sound when changes into past tense will be pronounced as d, i.e: involved, believed ...

However, when listening to natives, I heard the -ed in these pronounced as t. Is that just my ear problem?

Here is a link to the pronunciation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erwaIEWru5I https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPVlufBj2ZQ

  • I hear the ending D in both youtube clips. More likely that we go the other way, saying budder for butter, and eddimology for etymology. Not sure how the 'v' sound affects how we pronounce the past tense. Mar 2, 2017 at 20:07

2 Answers 2


In phonetics, [t] is used to transcribe a "voiceless" consonant phone and [d] is used to transcribe a "voiced" consonant phone.

For English speakers, the difference between the pronunciation of the phonemes /t/ and /d/ at the end of a word is not just a matter of phonetic voicing of the consonant ([t] vs. [d]). The difference between /t/ and /d/ shows up in the length of the preceding vowel. Vowels in syllables ending in phonemically voiceless consonants are shorter than vowels in syllables ending in phonemically voiced consonants. So e.g. "believed" is pronounced with a longer [i] sound than the word "briefed".

Because of effects like this, English speakers hear a difference between words ending in /d/ and words ending in /t/, even when words ending in /d/ are pronounced with a phonetically voiceless consonant sound that you might hear as [t].

A related question: Are "whores" and "horse" homophones?

  • Thanks for clearing that up. Takes me back to that one time I asked for the book "The Dig" in an American bookstore and drew some bewildered looks. Back then I had thought that I made the g too hard (German here, we tend to do that), but your comment cleared up that I probably also made the i too short.
    – Cerno
    May 6, 2019 at 11:31

If final or followed by a non-dental consonant the ending is pronounced with a /t/ sound.

I believed. I believed him.

If it is followed by a vowel it is pronounced with a /d/ sound.

I believed it. I believed 'em.

If it is followed by a dental consonant (d, t, th) it becomes a glottal stop.

I believed Tony. I believed them.

  • Where, in your above examples, is "believed" followed by a verb?
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 2, 2017 at 4:19
  • I believed it and I believed 'em
    – Chris M
    Mar 2, 2017 at 4:26
  • "it" and "'em" aren't verbs.
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 2, 2017 at 4:27
  • I know, it's late, sorry! I've modified my answer.
    – Chris M
    Mar 2, 2017 at 4:28
  • 1
    There is definitely no glottal stop before a dental – the /d/ just merges with it to yield a geminate dental. That does often entail the glottis closing, but it is not a glottal stop, which is a glottal closure with no other defining constriction in the vocal tract. I also perceive no significant difference between following vowels and consonants. Your point can be simplified and made more accurate thus: if a voiced sound follows (V or C), the /d/ remains voiced; if an unvoiced sound follows (including nothing), the /d/ is more likely to assimilate and become unvoiced as well. Mar 5, 2019 at 8:35

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