Is it "ate" or "it"?

Our clients who speak English as a Second Language (ESL) and are enrolled in accent modification training are often are perplexed by pronunciation RULES. How do we pronounce “-ate” when it appears at the end of a word?  We've covered this in our RULES student workbook, but let’s look at more examples. The World Dictionary defines the “-ate” suffix in the following manner: For adjectives, it is used to denote the appearance or characteristics of the noun, e.g., fortunate. For nouns, it denotes an office, rank, or group with certain functions, e.g., senate, electorate. These words can also become verbs, e.g., separate, graduate, liberate.

The pronunciation changes according to the part of speech. The same word that can be used as a noun/adjective or a verb, but is stressed or pronounced differently and has a different  meaning, is called a heteronym. Check our video on two and three syllable heteronyms.

For all of the three and four syllable words ending in “-ate,” place the primary stress on the first syllable, regardless of the part of speech. However, for nouns or adjectives, the last syllable is not stressed and it is pronounced as “it.” For verbs, the last syllable has secondary stress and  is pronounced as “ate.”

Some of the words below are heteronyms and will be indicated with an asterisk.*

VERBS – pronounce the last syllable as “ate”

liberate                               equivocate                        corroborate                        integrate

indicate                              interrogate                        appreciate                          hesitate

segregate                           alleviate                              ameliorate                         hibernate

meditate                             terminate                          germinate                         elongate

aggravate                           participate                         concentrate                       communicate

translate                            anticipate                           hyphenate                         relegate

depreciate                         discriminate                       proliferate                        disseminate

dominate*                         conjugate*                         laminate*                          coordinate*

subordinate*                    graduate*                           estimate*                           syndicate*

separate*                           moderate*                         delegate*                            elaborate*


ADJECTIVES OR NOUNS- pronounce the last syllable as “it”

intimate                             fortunate                            inordinate                         electorate

consulate                           passionate                          separate*                           moderate*

indiscriminate                  elaborate*                          coordinate*                       graduate*

estimate*                           syndicate*                          delegate*                           duplicate*

Let us know of some more examples that you found. Check out more RULES in RULES Student Workbook.rules

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