Noun and verb syllable stress

Some nouns and verbs have the same form in English. For example:

She set an Olympic record. (noun)
She’s recording her new song in the studios. (verb)

However, the pronunciation (i.e. syllable stress) is different. Where “record” is used as a noun, the stress is on the first syllable: RE-cord (where “re” is the same sound as the “re” in “relative”).

But when “record” is used as a verb, the stress is on the second syllable: re-CORD, and the “re” sounds like “ri”, as in “remember”.)

Here are some more examples of nouns and verbs that have the same form, but different pronunciation. You can listen to the audio (under each pair of sentences) to hear the differences in syllable stress.

To do with finance

Noun: INcrease “There’s been an increase in the number of students.”
Verb: inCREASE “Numbers are increasing.”

Noun: DEcrease “We’ve seen a decrease in the bird population.”
Verb: deCREASE “Numbers are decreasing every year.”

Noun: IMport “This is a cheap import.”
Verb: imPORT “They import their oil from the UK.”

Noun: EXport “Oil is one of their biggest exports.”
Verb: exPORT “We need to export more.”

Noun: DIScount “Is there a discount on this?”
Verb: disCOUNT “They discounted the theories.”

Noun: REfund “I’d like a refund please.”
Verb: reFUND “We’ll refund you 50%.”

To do with authority or argument

Noun: PERmit “Do you need a permit to fish here?”
Verb: perMIT “They won’t permit her to leave the country.”

Noun: CONflict “They’re reporting armed conflict in the area.”
Verb: conFLICT “His opinion conflicted with hers.”

Noun: CONtest “She entered a beauty contest.”
Verb: conTEST “They contested the results.”

Noun: INsult “Your offer is so low it’s an insult.”
Verb: inSULT “Don’t insult me!”

Noun: PROtest “There’s a student protest today.”
Verb: proTEST “They’re protesting against cuts.”

Noun: REbel “He was a rebel when he was younger.”
Verb: reBEL “He rebelled against authority.”

To do with renewal

Noun: REwrite “That’s a rewrite of an old song.”
Verb: reWRITE “She rewrote her story.”

Noun: UPdate “We’ve got some updates for you.”
Verb: upDATE “We’re updating our files.”

Noun: UPgrade “They got an upgrade on the flight.”
Verb: upGRADE “It’s time to upgrade our computer.”

To do with communication

Noun: INvite “I received an invite to her party.”
Verb: inVITE “They invited us to their house.”

Noun: MISprint “There’s a misprint in the book.”
Verb: misPRINT “He misprinted the word.”

Noun: INsert “Put a couple of inserts in this text.”
Verb: inSERT “He inserted a few words into her paragraph.”

Noun: SURvey “Let’s do a customer survey to find out.”
Verb: surVEY “They surveyed over 1000 people.”


Noun: CONtrast “There’s a big contrast between you two.”
Verb: conTRAST “He contrasted the two pictures.”

Noun: DEtail “It’s just a minor detail.”
Verb: deTAIL “The story details their struggle with poverty.”

Noun: EScort “You’ll need an escort to get through security.
Verb: esCORT “He escorted her out of the door.”

Noun: PERfume “He bought her a bottle of perfume for her birthday.”
Verb: perFUME “The roses perfumed the room.”

Noun: REject “This is one of the rejects from the factory.”
Verb: reJECT “He rejected her advice.”

Noun: UPset “The victory was an upset in the championships.”
Verb: upSET “He upset her with his cruel remarks.”

When noun and verb have different meanings

Noun: COMpound “They lived in a compound.”
Verb: comPOUND “Current policy is just compounding problems.”

Noun: CONtract “Have you signed the contract?”
Verb: conTRACT “The economy is contracting.”

Noun: CONduct “The conduct of the student was unacceptable.”
Verb: conDUCT “They’re conducting an enquiry.”

Noun: OBject “He treats her like an object.”
Verb: obJECT “She objected to the proposals.”

Noun: SUBject “What subjects do you study?”
Verb: subJECT “She was subjected to harsh criticism.”

Noun: PREsent “He gave her a present.”
Verb: preSENT “He’s going to present his findings.”

Noun: PROject “They’re working on a project.”
Verb: proJECT “He projects himself well.”

Noun: REfuse “The refuse collectors are on strike.”
Verb: reFUSE “He refused permission.”

Noun: DEsert “They went travelling in the Sahara desert.”
Verb: deSERT “The soldiers deserted their post.”

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