Improving Written Communication:
Debugging the "-ed" Bug
Ted E. Johnston & Joe Old
10/7/2015
English Beyond the Basics (2nd
ed.)
1
Introduction
 Just as a moth chews up wool or a termite wood,
the “-ed” bug chews up the regular verbs in your
writing by destroying “-ed” endings.
 You need to recognize this writing pest and
learn how to “de-bug” your writing so the “-ed”
bug won’t irritate or confuse your reader.
 This presentation will discuss the answers to
the following questions about the “-ed” bug:
10/7/2015
English Beyond the Basics (2nd ed.)
2
Topics to be covered
1. How does the “-ed” ending function in
the English verb tense system?
2. Where does the “-ed” bug do its damage?
3. What are the effects of the “-ed” bug on
the reader?
4. What causes the “-ed” bug to infest your
writing?
10/7/2015
English Beyond the Basics (2nd ed.)
3
1.1 The Function of the “-ed” Ending on
Regular Verbs
A. The English verb system, like the Spanish, has tense.
Tense refers to changes in the verb to reflect changes
in time. The “-ed” ending is used with the simple past
tense.
10/7/2015

Present: The baby cries.

Past: The baby cried.

Future: The baby will cry.
English Beyond the Basics (2nd ed.)
4
1.2 The Function of the “-ed” Ending on
Regular Verbs
B. Some tenses also allow us to sequence time. The “-ed”
ending is used to form the perfect tenses in verb phrases that
begin with “has,” “have,” or “had.”

Present perfect (earlier than something in the present):
He has already arrived and is waiting upstairs.

Past perfect (further in the past than something else also in the
past):
He had already arrived and was waiting upstairs.

Future perfect (nearer future than something else also in the
future):
He will have already arrived and will be waiting upstairs.
10/7/2015
English Beyond the Basics (2nd ed.)
5
1.3 The Function of the “-ed” Ending on
Regular Verbs
C. Regular verbs ending in “-ed” also can end verb
phrases preceded by a modal (“will,” “would,” “shall,”
“should,” “could,” “may,” “might,” “ought to,” and “must”)
and “have.”
10/7/2015

We would have received a letter before now.

The detective might have traced the call.

The doctor should have called earlier.

The children must have learned something.
English Beyond the Basics (2nd ed.)
6
1 .4 The Function of the “-ed” Ending on
Regular Verbs
D. Regular-verb phrases in the passive voice also end
with an “-ed” verb form (and the phrase contains at
least one helper from “to be”). The subject of a
passive sentence receives rather than performs the
action of the verb.
10/7/2015

The gift wasn’t properly wrapped.

He should have been fired sooner.

The mural has been completed at last.

The rugs will be ruined by the rain.
English Beyond the Basics (2nd ed.)
7
2.1 Damage Done by the “-ed” Bug
A. Although the “-ed” ending is very important in forming
certain tenses for regular verbs, sometimes students fail
to include it for reasons we will discuss shortly. How can
these sentences be debugged?
Bugged: The baby cry all night.
-ed –ed -ed
Bugged: He had finish the job by the time I got there.
Bugged: The concert was cancel because of rain.
Bugged: The boy should have listen to his mother.
10/7/2015
English Beyond the Basics (2nd ed.)
8
2.2 Damage Done by the “-ed” Bug
B. We call the problem seen above “the ‘-ed’ bug.” Here are
the correct sentences after debugging:
Debugged: The baby cried all night.
Debugged: He had finished the job by the time I got
there.
Debugged: The concert was canceled because of rain.
Debugged: The boy should have listened to his mother.
10/7/2015
English Beyond the Basics (2nd ed.)
9
3.1 The Effects of the
“-ed” Bug on the Reader
A. As with any bug considered a pest, the “-ed” bug is an
undesirable irritant. It gives knowledgeable readers the
impression that the writer is careless or has weak English:




Bugged: The lady ask me too many questions.
Bugged: The boys watch movies yesterday.
Debugged: The lady asked me too many questions.
Debugged: The boys watched movies yesterday.
Here is another example of such an error:

10/7/2015
Form error (bugged): I work hard back when I live on a
ranch.
English Beyond the Basics (2nd ed.)
10
3.2 The Effects of the “-ed” Bug
on the Reader
-ed -ed -ed
B. In extreme cases, the “-ed” bug can be more than just
an irritant. It can even affect meaning. What if we
removed “back” from the above sentence?
10/7/2015

Form and meaning error (bugged): I work hard when I live
on a ranch.

This sentence could make the reader think that writer still
lives on a ranch!
English Beyond the Basics (2nd ed.)
11
3.3 The Effects of the “-ed” Bug
on the Reader
However, if the writer means he used to live on ranch, but
doesn’t live there anymore, he must reverse the effects
of the “-ed” bug so the grammar and the meaning are in
harmony:

Debugged: I worked hard back when I lived on a
ranch. [Form error fixed]

Debugged: I worked hard when I lived on a ranch.
[Form and meaning error fixed]
10/7/2015
English Beyond the Basics (2nd ed.)
12
3.4 The Effects of the “-ed” Bug
on the Reader
C. When grammar and meaning are not in harmony
because of the “-ed” bug, it upsets educated readers of
English as much the following sentence would upset
educated readers of Spanish:
10/7/2015

Error: Trabajo duro en aquel entonces cuando vivo en un
rancho. [The meaning is clear, but the bad grammar makes
the reader focus on the error, not the idea.]

Correct: Trabajaba duro en aquel entonces cuando vivía en
un rancho.
English Beyond the Basics (2nd ed.)
13
4.1 The Causes of the “-ed” Bug
A. The “-ed” bug infests writing because of something called
“sound reduction.” “Sound reduction” affects unemphasized
terminal and initial sounds in rapid speech and causes words
to combine or be shortened. Contractions are one type of
“sound reduction” (underlined below):




10/7/2015
The dogs’re barkin’ outside. [ARE BARKING]
I’m readin’ the newspaper. [AM READING]
The boys wanna see that movie. [WANT TO]
We gotta go and we’re gonna go. [We HAVE (this word totally
disappeared!) got TO go and we ARE goING TO go.]
English Beyond the Basics (2nd ed.)
14
4.2 The Causes of the “-ed” Bug
B. Except occasionally for contractions, spelling words to reflect
oral sound reductions is not allowed in academic writing!
C. The “-ed” ending is an unemphasized terminal sound that is
barely enunciated:


NOT: We orderED the pizza for later.
BUT: We ORdered the pizza for later.
D. The writing of students who are primarily “oral” is written to
reflect what they hear. Because the “-ed” sound isn’t clearly
enunciated in rapid speech, the student might write:


Bugged: We order the pizza for later.
Debugged: We ordered the pizza for later.
10/7/2015
English Beyond the Basics (2nd ed.)
15
4.3 The Causes of the “-ed” Bug
E. Many students, including native speakers, are
bothered by the “-ed” bug in their writing in contexts in
which “-ed” is back-to-back with a T, D, or Th sound. In
rapid speech, the two sounds blend into one. Can you
de-bug these errors?





10/7/2015
Bugged: We were suppose to help them.
Bugged: Tom has finish talking.
-ed -ed -ed
Bugged: We use to go to school there.
Bugged: The coach show the boys how the ball should be
kick down the field.
Bugged: My mother sew the button on my shirt.
English Beyond the Basics (2nd ed.)
16
4.4 The Causes of the “-ed” Bug

Debugged: We were supposed to help them.

Debugged: Tom has finished talking.

Debugged: We used to go to school there.

Debugged: The coach showed the boys how the ball
should be kicked down the field.

Debugged: My mother sewed the button on my shirt.
10/7/2015
English Beyond the Basics (2nd ed.)
17
4.5 The Causes of the “-ed” Bug
F. Speakers of Spanish or other languages often don’t
hear the “-ed” ending in other contexts because their
ears may not be accustomed to subtle differences in
sounds or because they don’t know what verb forms to
use in complex verb phrases.




10/7/2015
Bugged: We walk four miles this morning.
Debugged: We walked four miles this morning.
Bugged: I borrow his book yesterday and return it today.
Debugged: I borrowed his book yesterday and then returned
it today.
English Beyond the Basics (2nd ed.)
18
4.6 The Causes of the “-ed” Bug
-d -t -d -t
G. In the writing of students who have limited knowledge
of English verbs or who have poor pronunciation, a
variation of the “-ed” bug can also invade irregular
verbs that end in “-d” or “-t.” Can you de-bug these
verbs?




10/7/2015
Bugged: He hear the bad news this morning.
Bugged: Lucy has already pay the bill.
Bugged: We sweep the floor before the party.
Bugged: The letter was send yesterday.
English Beyond the Basics (2nd ed.)
19
4.7 The Causes of the “-ed” Bug




Debugged: He heard the bad news this morning.
Debugged: Lucy has already paid the bill.
Debugged: We swept the floor before the party.
Debugged: The letter was sent yesterday.
Students with this problem may have a serious fluency
issue and are advised to do a more formal review of
the various aspects of the verb phrase formation, as
indicated in the “Advice” at the end of this
presentation.
10/7/2015
English Beyond the Basics (2nd ed.)
20
Summary and Advice
Summary Activity 1:
-ed -ed -ed
Repair the damage done by the “-ed” bug below:






10/7/2015
Past tense: The company hire Alan this morning.
Present perfect tense: In fact, the company has hire
three new employees this week.
Past perfect tense: The company had also hire
several new employees last week.
Future perfect tense: The company will have hire
three more employees by the end of next week.
Passive voice: Alan was hire this morning.
Modal verb phrase: The company should have hire
Alan a long time ago.
English Beyond the Basics (2nd ed.)
21
Summary and Advice
Summary Activity 1 continued
Because he English regular verb system relies extensively on “-ed”
endings for the various tenses, you must not let the “-ed” bug eat
them up! Below, the “ed” bug has been debugged:






Past tense: The company hired Alan this morning.
Present perfect tense: In fact, the company has hired three new
employees this week.
Past perfect tense: The company had also hired several new
employees last week.
Future perfect tense: The company will have hired three more
employees by the end of next week.
Passive voice: Alan was hired this morning.
Modal verb phrase: The company should have hired Alan long
ago.
10/7/2015
English Beyond the Basics (2nd ed.)
22
Summary and Advice
Summary Activity 2: Debug these verbs that
have been infected by the “-ed” bug.
(Here you must find the verb or verb phrase on your own.)
 Past: She order two pizzas to go.
-ed -ed -ed
 Present perfect: My sister has finally graduate from
college.
 Past perfect: We had often notice that before.
 Future perfect: The boys will have finish the project
by then.
10/7/2015
English Beyond the Basics (2nd ed.)
23
Summary and Advice
Summary Activity 2 continued
-ed -ed -ed
 Passive: The dog was frighten by all the
noise.
 Modal construction: She would have talk to
him if he had ask her for help.
 Modal construction: The students ought to
have ask for the principal’s permission before
they leave.
10/7/2015
English Beyond the Basics (2nd ed.)
24
Summary and Advice
Summary Activity 2 continued: The “-ed”
Bug Debugged!
 Past: She ordered two pizzas to go.
 Present perfect: My sister has finally
graduated from college.
 Past perfect: We had often noticed that
before.
 Future perfect: The boys will have
finished the project by then.
10/7/2015
English Beyond the Basics (2nd ed.)
25
Summary and Advice
Summary Activity 2 continued: The “-ed” Bug
Debugged!
 Passive: The dog was frightened by all the noise.
 Modal construction: She would have talked to him
if he had asked her for help.
 Modal construction: The students ought to have
asked for the principal’s permission first before
they left.
10/7/2015
English Beyond the Basics (2nd ed.)
26
Summary and Advice
SUMMARY continued
As seen in the above examples, writing infested with the “-ed”
bug is annoying. Sometimes, the reader’s understanding
of the writer’s intended meaning may even be jeopardized.

The company regularly hire new employees.
Does this sentence mean “The company regularly hires new
employees” or the “The company regularly hired new
employees”? If you were looking for a job, the difference in
meaning could be important.
10/7/2015
English Beyond the Basics (2nd ed.)
27
Summary and Advice
SUMMARY continued
 This “-ed” bug occurs in the writing of students who are more
comfortable in oral rather than written communication,
including the writing of native speakers of English.
 Such students write what they hear, and since sound
reduction of unemphasized sounds is common in rapid
speech, the “-ed” ending is often not enunciated or not heard,
and consequently not written.
10/7/2015
English Beyond the Basics (2nd ed.)
28
Summary and Advice
SUMMARY continued
 The “-ed” bug occurs more frequently in the
writing of second language speakers for two
additional reasons:

Their ears are less likely to hear subtle differences
in sound, and they also may not pronounce certain
sounds.

They may have an incomplete understanding of
English verb phrase formation.
10/7/2015
English Beyond the Basics (2nd ed.)
29
Summary and Advice
ADVICE
 When revising their papers, students with a minor “-ed”
bug problem should slowly read their writing out loud so
that they can detect any “-ed” sounds that they may have
omitted in their writing.

This technique may not initially be as effective for students with
a more serious problem, especially second language students
who don’t enunciate or recognize subtle sound differences or
who are uncertain about English verb phrase formation.
 Students who occasionally have problems with the “-ed”
bug should study Va-1a in the handbook and do Exercises
4.2, 16.6, and 16.8 in the workbook.
10/7/2015
English Beyond the Basics (2nd ed.)
30
Summary and Advice
ADVICE continued
 Students with a more serious problem may need
to do the following before doing the above:



10/7/2015
Review the verb-tense system in Vt-1a and 1b in the
handbook, review irregular and regular verb
differences in Vt-3, and do Exercises 1.3-1.7 in the
workbook.
Review modal verb phrase construction in Vh-2a in
the handbook and do Exercises 2.2, 2.3, and 2-Edit 1.
Review passive verb constructions in Vm-1 in the
handbook and do Exercise 3.2 in the workbook.
English Beyond the Basics (2nd ed.)
31
Summary and Advice
ADVICE continued
 Another aspect of oral language is that the
present tense is often used colloquially to
discuss past events (“So I get ready to go, but
then I miss my bus” instead of “So I got ready
to go, but then I missed my bus”). Some
missing “-ed” endings, then, may not be based
on the “-ed” bug, but on this phenomenon.

10/7/2015
If you think this may be part of your problem, study
Vt-2a and 2c in the handbook and do Exercise 1.2
in the workbook.
English Beyond the Basics (2nd ed.)
32
Descargar

Document