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I'm listening to audio tapes (German with Michel Thomas) where the instructor stresses the t sound for the he/she/it conjugation of werden, i.e.

Er wird [...]

To me this sounds like veert.
However, the he/she/it conjugation of würden seems to end more in what sounds like a d, i.e.

Er würd [...]

To me this sounds like vyoord.

Am I mishearing/misunderstanding the audio tape, or is there an irregularity?

(This is the first time I've actually seen how to spell these words, since I'm learning purely by listening, so I may have found the wrong spellings.)

  • The speaker is probably emphasizing the word while he explains grammar. If you want to learn correct pronunciation, you'd better listen to speaker who are not at that moment explaining the words they speak. If you don't know what I mean, try explaining some aspect of your mother tongue. Your pronunciation of what you explain will change, because you try to speak clearer and more slowly than you would in real communication. – user4973 Oct 21 '14 at 11:08
  • @what - Understood, I think. But in this case, I believe it was about pronunciation, quite focusedly. There are two "students" in the audio tape, and while learning wird, whenever a student accidentally pronounced it with a d, the instructor would stop the student and stress the t, e.g repeating, "te! te! wir[te]!" Then the student would repeat the word, ending with a t sound this time, and he'd say, "Yes, gut." That's why it struck me that as we learned the subjunctive forms, the "te!" sound didn't reappear when going from first-person to third-person. – Andrew Cheong Oct 21 '14 at 14:29
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First, note please that there is no "conjugation of würden":
wird, würd(e), werden and würden are all forms of the same verb, werden. The forms with ü are past subjunctive/Konjunktiv II forms which are derived from the past tense of werden which is er wurde/sie wurden. Although this subjunctive/Konjunktiv is derived from a past tense, its meaning is present.

The third person forms singular present of the verb werden are:

  • indicative: er/sie/es wird
  • (present subjunctive: er/sie/es werde)
  • past subjunctive: er/sie/es würde

The form wird is pronounced with a final [t] sound because of the phenomenon known as Auslautverhärtung (terminal devoicing): In German, a final g sounds like a k, a final d like a t, a final b like a p, a final v like an f and a final s like an ß.
The forms werde and würde are pronounced with a [d] sound, because the d does not stand at the end of a syllable but is the first sound of the second syllable of the words.
In every-day speech, the form würde can be shortened to würd; sometimes this is marked with an apostrophe in written language: würd'. In this shortened form, the d is final again and is pronounced as a [t] sound.

My guess of why you perceive that wird and würd are pronounced with different d sounds is that the speaker was actually pronouncing the full form würde which has a [d] sound and somehow you missed the schwa sound which succeeds the [d].

I don't transcribe the full words in IPA because there are various possibilities to pronounce the combination vowel+r as in wird; instead I just wanted to focus on the pronunciation of d.

  • 1
    Thanks for patiently correcting my misunderstandings. (Re: your comment regarding würden: duly noted; it's been ages since I've learned grammar.) I think I was misled by the way I perceived one goes from first- to third-person. I was under the impression, purely from listening, that one "trims the e," e.g. werde becomes w[e]rd. (Until asking this question, I didn't realize the latter was actually w[i]rd, which I considered an irregularity.) So by the same pattern, I also supposed that würde should become würd, again, in converting from first- to third-person. – Andrew Cheong Oct 21 '14 at 3:33
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Indeed, these two words have a different pronunciation:

er/sie/es wird [vɪrt] (Indikativ)
es/sie/es würde [ˈvʏrdə] (Konjunktiv II)

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