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Same Verbs and Nouns + Syllable Stress | English Pronunciation Lesson

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There are some words in English where the verb and the noun are the same exact word with the same spelling.

Example

  • NOUN: “The broccoli can be found in the produce aisle.”
  • VERB: “These companies produce 100,000 shirts per year.”

Here, although the highlighted words are spelled the same, there is a difference in their pronunciations. Did you hear it?

Listen again

  • NOUN: “The broccoli can be found in the produce aisle.”
  • VERB: “These companies produce 100,000 shirts per year.”

Rule

When there is a pair of words where the verb and noun/adjective is spelled the same, you can distinguish the words by shifting the syllable stress.

  • noun/adjective –> stress the first syllable;
  • verb –> stress the second syllable.

Notice that when you stress the second syllable in the verb, you must de-stress the first syllable down to a schwa (an [ə]) to prepare for the strong stressed syllable.

  • VERB: “produce”  [prə DUWS]

Got it?

Let’s practice.

Listen and Repeat

I’ll say the nouns first and the verbs second. 

NOUN: “We’re in contract negotiations right now.” (Notice how [t] + [r] –> “ch” [tʃ])
VERB: “He likes to contract his muscles to show off how big they are.”

NOUN: “This supermarket doesn’t have the best produce section.”
VERB: “They’ll produce the best pop album this year.”

NOUN: “He got his learner’s permit as soon as he turned 16.”
VERB: “I can’t permit you to do that!” (Notice how I pronounced “can’t” vs. “can)

NOUN: “There is so much conflict in this world.”
VERB: “This conflicts with my priorities in life.” (Notice how I deleted the [t] in the consonant cluster).

NOUN: “This project is set to wrap up early next year.”
VERB: “This machine projects the image onto the wall.”

NOUN: “I got so many presents for Christmas this year!” (Notice how I de-stressed the function word “for”).
VERB: “I’ll present my findings to the committee this afternoon.”

Remember, don’t worry about sounding perfect. Just know that it is possible that if you confuse the placement of a stressed syllable, the listener may become confused about the word that you are trying to communicate. This is because native English speakers have no idea that they make this change, so they won’t be expecting a change in syllable stress when they hear it.

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