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Multi-syllable Stress patterns

Long words have stress patterns. Usually one syllable is stressed more than the others. When words change to other parts of speech, for example, from verb to noun, the stress pattern often changes. Typically verbs have the stressed syllable towards the end of the word, while nouns and adjectives do not.
1

Similar sounding words

Words with two or more syllables have a stressed syllable. To be understood you have to learn which syllable to stress in each word. The word Eligible could sound like Illegible if you don't learn the stress patterns.

Read these words to a partner. Can they understand which you are reading?
Let me read them for you.
  1. Try to guess which word of each pair I am reading.
  2. Make a correct sentence with each of the words.
1a audio
    1. Dessert
    2. Desert
    1. Eligible
    2. Illegible
    1. except
    2. accept
    1. breathe
    2. breath
    3. breadth
    1. device
    2. devise
    1. effect
    2. affect
    1. later
    2. latter
    1. precede
    2. proceed
    1. vociferous
    2. voracious

Nouns or Verbs

2 YouTube
1b

    Second Set

    audio
    1. quiet
    2. quite
    3. quit
    1. illusion
    2. allusion
    1. clothes
    2. cloths
    1. incite
    2. insight
    1. precedence
    2. precedent
    1. gases
    2. guesses

Two-syllable words that are stressed on the second syllable

Most words are stressed on the first syllable. Here are some two-syllable words, which are stressed on the second syllable. Check the page about the schwa sound for words such as away, ahead, ago ...

police Japan Machine Collide Marine
3

These are homophones. They sound the same.

its it's, presents presence, ... All Homophones in English
4

How to pronounce long words in English

When we can see a shorter word inside a longer word. The pronunciation of these letters inside the longer word is often unstressed. For example. There is no table in comfortable and there is no face in surface.
Examples:
  1. Man + age = manage.
  2. Home + ward = homeward.
  3. Palace
  4. Baggage
  5. Comfort
  6. Comfortable
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Rules for Word Stress

  1. Each word has one stressed syllable.
  2. There must be a vowel in the stressed syllable.
  3. Nouns with two syllables are usually stressed on the first syllable
    1. Present
    2. Export
    3. China
    4. Table
  4. Adjectives with two syllables are usually stressed on the first syllable. Devil Hey! One of these is not an adjective.
    1. present
    2. Slender
    3. Clever
    4. Happy
  5. Most verbs with two syllables are stressed on the second syllable
    1. present
    2. export
    3. decide
    4. begin

Nouns or Verbs?

There are many two-syllable words in English whose meaning and class change with a change in stress. The word present, for example is a two-syllable word. If we stress the first syllable, it is a noun (gift) or an adjective (opposite of absent). But if we stress the second syllable, it becomes a verb (to offer).

More examples:

For each word, make two sentences to show the different forms of the word. Example 1. Exports are imortant for the country's economy.
We must export more goods.
Read more about changing the meaning by stress.
  1. exports (noun) export (verb)
  2. imports (noun) import (verb)
  3. contract
  4. object
  5. perfect
  6. produce
6

End-of-word voicing

One interesting area of English pronunciation is voiced sounds at the end of words. Look at these two examples:

- I'd like some peace with my dinner. - I'd like some peas with my dinner. 

The meaning of these statements is clear. In the first, the  speaker wants a calm atmosphere while he's eating. In the  second, he wants a green vegetable. But is the pronunciation also clear? If you say the two sentences out loud, you should  notice that there is a difference in the final sound in "peace"  and "peas". "Peace" is voiceless /pi:s/, whereas  "peas" is voiced /pi:z/. 

What do voiceless (or unvoiced) and voiced mean exactly? Voiceless sounds are pronounced without the vocal cords vibrating. Voiced sounds are pronounced with the  vocal cords vibrating. If that sounds vague, put your  hands over your ears and say the following pairs of  consonant sounds: [p] and [b], [t] and [d], [k] and  [g], [s] and [z], [f] and [v]. The first sound  in each pair is voiceless and won't produce a vibration  in your head. The second one will, It's voiced. 

As a German speaker, you may find these differences difficult to reproduce. It all comes down to interference, in many parts of Germany, end-of-word consonants are always voiceless.  The German word "Kind" (child)  for example, although written with a "d", is pronounced /kint/. English, on the other hand  has end-of-word consonant sounds that are both voiceless  and voiced: for example, "hat" /haet/ is different form  "had" /haed/. In so-called minimal pairs like these, the different sound creates a different meaning, so pronunciation has to be particularly clear.

If your first language is German and you're speaking English, there's a danger that you do what you would automatically do in German: make end-of-word consonant sounds voiceless. Be careful. If you do "devoice" where there's a minimal pair involved, you could end up saying: "I hate my niece" /ni:s/ when you actually want to say: "I hate my knees" /ni:z/.

Say the words niece and knees out loud, and you'll notice something else about voiceless and voiced sounds. They have a different effect on the vowel sound they follow. The vowel sound before a voiceless consonant is shorter than that before a voiced consonant. So if you're having trouble with your voiced consonant sounds, lengthen the vowel. It will be much easier for others to understand you.

1) Say the following words aloud.

These words all end with a voiceless consonant sound:

mop - bright - dock - safe - teeth - spice

These words all end with a voiced consonant sound. Notice the length of the vowel.

mob - bridge - dog - save - teethe - spies

cup - cub frock - frog neat / need rich / ridge

mob - bridge - dog - save - teethe - spies

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Change Form and Change Stress Pattern

When the form of a long word changes, the pronunciation often changes too. Eg: To estimate (vrb) and Estimate (noun) Verbs and nouns have different stress patterns. usually the verb is more stressed at the end.

Read both word forms with the correct stress.

  1. separate (adjective) separate (verb)
    Separate these pieces and put them into two separate piles.
  2. Estimate (adjective) estimate (verb) Can you estimate the cost of this project and send the estimate to me by post.
  3. Relative (noun) Related (Adjective)

Long words in English pronunciation

Word stress changes with changing parts of speech. From noun to verb to adjective using word stress

Long word stress patterns

Almost all two-syllable nouns and adjectives are stressed on the first syllable, but most two-syllable verbs are stressed on the second syllable. Sometimes the verb is spelt the same as the noun or adjective but the pronunciation depends on whether the word is a verb or not.

Here are additional examples of words which change from noun to verb because of the position of the stressed syllable. If you accent the wrong syllable, you may not be understood. Also notice that when a syllable changes stress the actual sound of the vowels often change too.

The endings of most verbs are stressed. For example articulate (verb) and articulate (adjective)

These examples are in alphabetical order and show this rule and exceptions to this rule

  1. Abuse Irregular as the ending changes sound but not stress)

    @computer @bag @yacht @boot @snake is a noun. Eg:Staff abuse will not be tolerated.

    @computer @bag @yacht @boot @zebra is a verb. Eg: Abusers will be procecuted. I never expected that he would abuse the trust I placed in him.
  2. Advocate

    @cat @dog @vase @computer @key @train @tie is a verb.

    @cat @dog @vase @computer @key @computer @tie is a noun.
  3. Approximate
    rhyming with rate, is a verb

    @computer @parrot @right @clock @key @snake @computer @monkey @train @tie is a verb.

    @computer @parrot @right @clock @snake @computer @monkey @computer @tie
    is a noun.
  4. Articulate

    @car @tie @fish @key @yacht @boot @leg @train @tie is a verb.

    @car @tie @fish @key @yacht @leg @tie is an adjective and a noun.
  5. Associate

    @computer @snake @phone @snake @tree @train @tie is a verb.

    Sound @computer @snake @phone @snake @tree @computer @tie is a noun.

  6. Attribute
    /media/audio/words/attribute_verb.mp3

    @computer @tie @right @fish @bag @yacht @boot @tie is a verb.
    Eg: This drawing has been attributed to picasso.

    @cat @tie @right @fish @bag @yacht @boot @tie is a noun.
    Organizational ability is an essential attribute for a good manager.

  7. Bass
    @bag @cat @snake is a type of fish
    @bag @train @snake is the lower frequency sounds.
  8. Bow
    @bag @phone These can be used with a violin or for shooting arrows.
    @bag @phone An actor does after a performance. people used to do this to kings and queens.
  9. Close
    /media/audio/words/close_adjective.mp3 @key @leg @phone @snake with the S sounding like S in See, is an adjective.
    @key @leg @phone @zebra Close, with the S sounding like Z in Zebra, is a verb.
  10. Combat
    @key @clock @monkey @bag @cat @tie The aircraft was shot down in combat.
    @key @clock @monkey @bag @cat @tie
    new measures to combat the rise in crime.
    These can sound the same
  11. Compound
    Water is a compound of hydrogen and oxygen.
    Severe drought has compounded food shortages in the region.
  12. Compress
    The course compresses two years' training into six months.
    The doctor put a compress on the wound to stop it bleeding. 
  13. Conduct
    He was criticized for his conduct of the inquiry.
    The water was conducted through the lead pipes
  14. Confines
    He was confined to a prison cell for several days.
    He was restricted to the confines of the camp.
  15. Conflict
    The Government was in conflict with the unions over pay.
    There were conflicting accounts of how the fight started.
  16. Conscript
    During World War I, he was conscripted into the Russian army.
  17. Contract
    The contract was binding.
    He was contracted for three years.
    After six months she was offered a contract of employment.
    The steel contracts as it cools.
  18. Contrast
    The contrast was stunning.
    Her yellow skirt contrasted with her red shoes.
    The little village was a total contrast to San Francisco.
    When you contrast their work records, Julie is clearly more qualified.
  19. Converse
    The converse is not often the case.
    Conversing in a foreign language can be quite tiring.
    In the uS, you drive on the right hand side of the road, but in Britain the converse applies.
    She's so shy that conversing with her can be quite difficult.
  20. Convert
    I'm a convert.
    The cream was converted into butter.
    You have to convert the temperature readings from Fahrenheit to Celsius.
    I'm a recent convert to vegetarianism.
  21. Convict
    I'm of the conviction that we should act immediately.
    An escaped convict was caught by police after two days on the loose.
    It was thought that he'd committed the crime but there wasn't sufficient evidence to convict him.
    A convict is "a person found guilty of a crime and sentenced by a court" or "a person serving a sentence in prison"
  22. Decrease
    prices are expected to decrease by less than 1 per cent this year.

    profits were £1 million, which is a decrease of 5 per cent on last year
  23. Deliberate
    rhyming with rate, is a verb
    computer
    , is an adjective
  24. Does
    rhyming with fuzz, is a verb
    rhyming with rose, = female deer
  25. Dove
    with the o of bone, is a verb, the past tense of dive
    rhyming with love, = bird
  26. Duplicate
    rhyming with rate, is a verb
    , is an adjective and a noun
  27. Elaborate
    rhyming with rate, is a verb
    , is an adjective
  28. Escort
    He arrived in court under police escort.
    She escorted him to the front door.
  29. Excuse
    Excuse, with the S sounding like S in See, is a noun.
    Excuse, with the S sounding like Z in Zebra, is a verb.
  30. Graduate
    rhyming with rate, is a verb
    , is a noun
  31. House
    with the S sounding like S in See, is a noun.
    House, with the S sounding like Z in Zebra, is a verb.
  32. Live
    with the i of hit, is a verb
    with the i of five, is an adjective
  33. Moderate rhyming with rate, is a verb
    /media/audio/words/moderate_adjective.mp3 @monkey @clock @dog @computer @right @computer @tie is an adjective.
  34. Object: I object your honour! /media/audio/words/object_verb.mp3
    The object of this exercise is to learn English. /media/audio/words/object_noun.mp3
  35. polish
    written with a capital p and the O sounding like O in bOne, is an adjective of nationality.
    written with a small p and the O sounding like O in hOt, is a verb or a noun.
  36. produce: We produce the finest products in this area. /media/audio/words/produce_verb.mp3
    produce: Fresh produce is delivered every day. /media/audio/words/produce_noun.mp3
  37. Rampage
  38. Rebel
    The rebels took control of the government building.
    Rebelling against the rules.
  39. Recap
  40. Recall
  41. Record: For the record, I'm not a suspect. /media/stress/record_noun.mp3
    She records everything that happens to her in her diary.
  42. Refill
  43. Refund
  44. Refuse
  45. Reject
  46. Replay
  47. Separate
    @snake @egg @parrot @bird @right @train @tie is a verb, rhyming with rate.
    @snake @egg @parrot @bird @right @computer @tie is an adjective.
  48. Subject
  49. Suspect: I suspect that this conversation is being recorded. /media/audio/words/suspect_verb.mp3
    Police have issued a photograph of the suspect.
  50. Survey
    He is the master of all he surveys
    The survey was conducted by an independant company.
  51. Tear
    rhyming with where, is a verb
    rhyming with near, is a noun
  52. use
    with the S sounding like S in See, is a noun.
    use, with the S sounding like Z in Zebra, is a verb.
  53. used
    I used to smoke, with the S in used sounding like S in See, means "I smoked in the past. I don't now".
    I used a hammer, with the S sounding like Z in Zebra, means "I did something by means of a hammer".
  54. Wind
    with the i of five, is a verb
    with the i of hit, is a noun
  55. Wound
    with au of found, (ah-oo) is a verb
    with the oo of food, is a noun

Exceptions to te rule

  1. visit
  2. reply
  3. picture
  4. travel
  5. promise

Over half the army was composed of conscripts.

  1. Desert
    We had to cross a large area of arid, featureless desert.
    How many people desert from the army each year?
  2. Detail
    Don't worry too much about the details.
    Can you produce a report detailing what we've spent on the project so far?
  3. Discard
    Remove the seeds from the melon and discard them.
    The dealer may, if he accepts the proposal, change any or all of the cards in his own hand Sometimes a second discard is allowed, but that must be by previous agreement.
  4. Envelope
    The proposal was no doubt drawn up on the back of an envelope
    The graveyard looked ghostly, enveloped in mist.
  5. Exploit
    We need to exploit every opportunity for media coverage.
    Her amazing exploits include walking across Antarctica.
  6. Export
    They are now manufacturing more goods for export.
    Their flowers are exported around the world.
    Since 1956 the uS has been Britain's largest export market.
  7. Extract
    The pulp was crushed to extract the juice.
    He read several extracts from his latest novel.
  8. Finance
    He's now studying international banking and finance.
    The scheme is being financed by the Arts Council.
  9. Fragment
    The vase hit the wall and shattered into fragments.
    After their European Cup success the team fragmented.
  10. Horrify
    Some living conditions in the middle ages were really horrible.
    That was a horrific accident.
  11. Impact
    Her paper discusses the likely impact of global warming.
    The failure of the transport system impacts daily on all our lives.
  12. Imprint
    The button had left an imprint on my arm.
    Dave had tried to imprint his personality on the office.
  13. Increase
    Gradually increase the temperature to boiling point.
    There were 39, 000 new cases last year - an increase of 7 per cent.
  14. Insert
    I've filled in the form, but you still need to insert (= add) your bank details and date of birth.
    These magazines have too many annoying inserts (= extra loose pages) advertising various products.
  15. Insult
    The steelworkers' leader rejected the 2% pay-rise saying it was an insult to the profession.
    You'll insult the chef if you don't at least taste the meal.
  16. Miraculous
    That patient has made a miraculous recovery.
    We can only prey for a miracle.
  17. permit
    Economic circumstances don't permit much public spending.
    The plane does not currently have a permit to carry livestock.
  18. prefix
    In the word 'unimportant', 'un-' is a prefix.
    To put or fix before, or at the beginning of, another thing; as, to prefix a syllable to a word, or a condition to an agreement.
  19. present
    To put or fix before, or at the beginning of, another thing; as, to prefix a syllable to a word, or a condition to an agreement. 
    In the run-up to the elections he sought to present himself as a family man.
  20. proceeds
    In the run-up to the elections he sought to present himself as a family man.
    His lawyers have decided not to proceed with the case.
  21. process
    His lawyers have decided not to proceed with the case.
    His lawyers have decided not to proceed with the case.
  22. produce
    She's asked me to produce a report on the state of the project.
    Local people come to the market each day to sell their produce.
  23. progress
    Technological progress has been so rapid over the last few years.
    Whenever I talk to him we never seem to progress beyond the weather and holidays.
  24. project
    Whenever I talk to him we never seem to progress beyond the weather and holidays.
    The edges of the roof project outwards and keep the rain away from the walls.
  25. protest
    Conservation groups have united in protest against the planned new road.
    Conservation groups have united in protest against the planned new road.
  26. Rampage
    Conservation groups have united in protest against the planned new road.
    The demonstrators rampaged through the town, smashing windows and setting fire to cars.
  27. Rebel
    He was a bit of a rebel when he was a teenager and dyed his hair pink.
    He was a bit of a rebel when he was a teenager and dyed his hair pink.
  28. Recap
    He was a bit of a rebel when he was a teenager and dyed his hair pink.
    He was a bit of a rebel when he was a teenager and dyed his hair pink.
  29. Recall
    He was a bit of a rebel when he was a teenager and dyed his hair pink.
    Old people often have astonishing powers of recall.
  30. Refill
    My pen seems to be running out of ink - I need a refill.
    She had already refilled his glass five or six times.
  31. Refund
    The holiday was cancelled so the travel agency had to refund everybody the price of the tickets.
    You will receive a full refund if you cancel the holiday.
  32. Refuse
    You will receive a full refund if you cancel the holiday.

    Refuse is generally collected either by manually  picking up trash bags from individual households or by mechanically emptying large community trash containers into trucks equipped with compactors to maximize their capacities

  33. Reject
    Local universities now reject as many as 15,000 students per year.
    It's so cheap because it's a reject.
  34. Replay
    The semi-final replay will be on Saturday.
    The police replayed the video of the robbery in court.
  35. Subject
    She has made a series of documentaries on the subject of family relationships.
    All train times are subject to change in bad weather conditions.
  36. Survey
    We are conducting a survey to find out what our customers think of their local bus service.
    He got out of the car to survey the damage.
  37. Torment
    He spent the night in torment, trying to decide what was the best thing to do.
    It tormented me (= caused me to worry) all day - did I remember to lock the door when I left the house?
  38. Transfer
    I'll be upstairs, so could you transfer my phone calls (= arrange that I can receive them) up there please?
    The official transfer of ownership will take a few days to complete.
  39. Transplant
    His body accepted the transplant.
    His body accepted/rejected the transplant.
  40. Transport
    The pipeline was constructed to transport oil across Alaska to ports on the coast.
    The company will arrange transport from the airport.
  41. upset
    I hadn't realized I'd upset him but apparently he was mortally offended.
    How much upset will the new monitoring procedures cause?
  42. Absent
    How many of them are absent without permission?
    You cannot choose to absent yourself (from work/school) on a whim.
  43. Frequent
    A frequent criticism of the proposal has been its high cost.
    if you frequent a place, you go there regularly

  44. perfect
    He is keen to perfect his golfing technique.
    What is your idea of perfect happiness?
    the perfect tense
  45. Invalid
    I'm afraid your driving licence is invalid in Eastern Europe.
    He had been an invalid for many years.
    Your ticket is invalid without the airline's official stamp.
  46. Minute
    It takes me twenty minutes to get to work.
    I've never seen a man with such tiny hands - they're minute!
  47. Complex
    Don't go on about her weight - you'll give her a complex!
    The company has a complex organizational structure.
  48. Close
    with the S sounding like S in See, is an adjective.
    I hate people standing too close to me.
    Close, with the S sounding like Z in Zebra, is a verb.
    Close your eyes - I've got a surprise for you.
  49. Excuse
    Excuse, with the S sounding like S in See, is a noun.
    He'd better have a good excuse for being late.
    Excuse, with the S sounding like Z in Zebra, is a verb.
    please excuse me for arriving late - the bus was delayed.
  50. House
    with the S sounding like S in See, is a noun.
    Try not to wake the whole house when you come in!
    House, with the S sounding like Z in Zebra, is a verb.
    It will be difficult to house all the refugees.
  51. use
    with the S sounding like S in See, is a noun.
    Don't throw that cloth away, you'll find a use for it one day.
    use, with the S sounding like Z in Zebra, is a verb.
    Your table manners are appalling - don't you know how to use a knife and fork?
  52. used
    I used to smoke, with the S in used sounding like S in See, means "I smoked in the past. I don't now".
    I used a hammer, with the S sounding like Z in Zebra, means "I did something by means of a hammer".
  53. Advocate
    Advocate, rhyming with rate, is a verb
    He advocates the return of capital punishment.
    Advocate, is a noun
    He's a strong advocate of state ownership of the railways.
  54. Approximate
    Rhyming with rate, is a verb
    Student numbers this year are expected to approximate 5000
    Approximate, is an adjective
    The train's approximate time of arrival is 10.30.
  55. Articulate
    Rhyming with rate, is a verb
    Articulate,
    , is an adjective and a noun
  56. Associate
    Rhyming with rate, is a verb
    I found myself unable to articulate my feelings.
    Associate, is an adjective and a noun
    She gave a witty, entertaining and articulate speech.
  57. Bass
    with the a of cat, is a type of fish
    Bass is a type of fish found in rivers or the sea
    Bass, with the a of face, means "with a low frequency tone"
    He sings bass.
  58. Bow
    With the o of bone, is used with a violin, also for shooting arrows
    Bows were made by a craftsman called a bowyer.
    Bow, rhyming with cow, is a verb - what an actor does after a performance, what a dog does
    Paul rose from his chair, bowed, and left the room.
  59. Deliberate
    Rhyming with rate, is a verb
    The jury took five days to deliberate on the case.
    @computer, is an adjective
    We made a deliberate decision to live apart for a while.
  60. Does
    Rhyming with fuzz, is a verb
    My car only does about 60 mph, even when it's going flat out.
    Rhyming with rose, = female deer
    The buck does funny things when the does are present.
  61. Dove
    With the o of bone, is a verb, the past tense of dive
    When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes. 
    Rhyming with love, = bird
    Dove is a white or grey bird, often used as a symbol of peace.
  62. Duplicate
    Rhyming with rate, is a verb
    Can you duplicate  this document for me?
    @computer is an adjective and a noun
    The thieves were equipped with duplicate keys to the safe.
    I lost the original form so they sent me a duplicate.
  63. Elaborate
    Rhyming with rate, is a verb
    The police refused to elaborate on the circumstances of the arrest.
    @computer, is an adjective
    The government's new healthcare plan is the most elaborate yet.
  64. Graduate
    Rhyming with rate, is a verb
    Lorna graduated from the university of London.
    @computer, is a noun
    Chris is a physics graduate.
  65. Live
    With the i of hit, is a verb
    Can the right to live ever be denied to any human?
    With the i of five, is an adjective
    Millions of live animals are shipped around the world each year.
  66. Moderate
    Rhyming with rate, is a verb
    The party is deeply divided between moderates and extremists.
    Weather conditions have moderated, making a rescue attempt possible.
    @computer, is an adjective
    Cook the spinach over a moderate heat.
  67. polish
    Written with a capital p and the O sounding like O in bOne, is an adjective of nationality.
    Polish is the language that people speak in poland
    written with a small p and the O sounding like O in hOt, is a verb or a noun.
    This table needs a good polish.
    It won't take the kids long to polish the cake off.
  68. Separate
    Rhyming with rate, is a verb
    The top and bottom sections are quite difficult to separate.
    @computer, is an adjective
    The art department and the main college are in two separate buildings.
  69. Tear
    Rhyming with where, is a verb
    You have to be very careful with books this old because the paper tends to tear very easily.
    Rhyming with near, is a noun
    I won't shed any tears  when he goes, I can tell you!
  70. Wind
    With the i of five, is a verb
    I always forget to wind my watch.
    With the i of hit, is a noun
    The weather forecast warned of winds of up to 60-miles-an-hour today.
  71. Wound
    With au of found, (ah-oo) is a verb
    She wound the handle but nothing happened.
    With the oo of food, is a noun
    Bandage the wound to reduce the risk of infection.




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