This is a game designed for students to identify and practise the pronunciation of ‘-ed’ in the past simple/past participle forms of regular verbs. It comes with three sets of cards at three levels of difficulty, so it can be played with students of any level from elementary to advanced.

You can download the cards by clicking here.

Edit: Click here for a .pdf version (for anyone who doesn’t have powerpoint)
Click here for an altered version where the number of syllables is shown under each word. This may be especially useful for lower levels.


The first version of the game is very simple and intended to introduce students to the three ways to pronounce ‘-ed’ (this stage is necessary at lower levels). I write wanted, played and watched on the board and I elicit their pronunciation from the class. I then write the three options phonemically: /Id/ /d/ /t/ and ask students to match the three words to the three sounds. I repeat the words and the sounds myself and also encourage students to repeat them. Once we’ve identified them correctly as a class we move onto part one of the game.

Cover pic

When you print the cards make sure you print on both sides of the page because the cards are double sided.

For elementary and pre-intermediate students use level 1 cards. For intermediate students, levels 1 and 2. For upper-intermediate and advanced students use 2 and 3 (Feel free to edit the sets yourself to include or exclude certain words, making sure that each word is still aligned with the correct sound on the reverse side).

The students are split into pairs or groups of three and given a set of cards and a labelled card for sorting. They take turns to draw a card, say it out loud and decide how the word is pronounced and place it in the box they think is correct. Students work cooperatively and discuss the choice before checking the back of the card. All of the cards are double sided and have the correct answer on the other side. Students work through the cards, checking as they go. Monitor and check for difficulties with pronunciation and ensure that students are taking turns and listening to each other.

flipped cards

The rules

When groups finish, ask them to look at the cards they’ve sorted and identify the rules for pronouncing ‘-ed’. Give the example of “if the verb ends in ‘t’ the pronunciation is /Id/” and ask them to find the other rules. This feeds into the next part of the lesson and is a perfect stage for early finishers that gives the rest of the class time to finish. Once all of the groups have completed the activity and have been looking for the rules for 3-5 minutes move onto the next part.

With the whole class ask students to help you identify the rules as you write them on the board in three columns (see below). Elicit the rules from the students with as little prompting as possible (at level 1 the cards don’t include all of the rules, so you can add to the list by giving students some additional words and prompting them to choose the correct column).

You should make it clear that the least common pronunciation is /Id/ while the most common is /d/. You should also be very clear about the difference between /z/ and /s/, since it is the most difficult to identify visually; (closed /zd/ vs kissed /st/. At higher levels you can make the distinction between voiced and unvoiced, but this isn’t required).

rules to elicit on the board

Story telling

After introducing the cards they can then be used again at a later date to practise pronunciation along with a relevant grammar point. The first example is the past tense.

Before you play this story telling game you should give students a clear context and an example. Students are split into groups of three or four and each given a set of cards. Each student draws three cards. They then take it in turns to play one of their cards and use the word in a sentence. They check each others’ pronunciation, listening for the correct ‘ed’ and then flipping the cards to check as they’re played. Students should work cooperatively to tell a continuous story that fits somewhat logically. At lower levels students tell the story in the past simple. After they play a card they draw a new card so they always have three cards.

For higher levels, students should have a hand of five cards and play two cards each turn, telling the story using the past simple and the past perfect.

Additional activities

There are opportunities to use these cards for the present perfect, the passive and other aspects of the language that use past participles and in the future I will update this page with more activities. I also intend to make a set of cards for ‘ed’ adjectives.

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