I ate more healthily: I began to moderate my intake of sugar and consumed more moderate amounts of fat.
Did you notice two ways to pronounce the suffix -ate? Well, let’s investigate…
You can listen to the first part of the post here.
This post looks at the pronunciation of the suffix (or word ending) -ate. Most words with this suffix are verbs, and they rhyme with ‘ate’: debate, motivate, participate…
But when -ate stands at the end of nouns and adjectives, its pronunciation changes. Looking back at the sentence at the beginning of the post, you’ll notice that we say ‘to moderate‘ /eɪt/, but ‘more moderate‘ /ət/.
So let me elaborate:
- At the end of verbs, the suffix –ate is pronounced like the verb ‘ate’ /eɪt/:
Don’t hesitate to communicate in English!
- At the end of nouns, however, –ate is pronounced as /ət/:
In hot climate, chocolate melts very quickly.
- The same goes for adjectives: –ate is pronounced /ət/:
We’ll use these approximate figures to work out a more accurate amount.
- Adverbs are formed from adjectives by adding -ly. Among others, the following ones are very frequent:
approximate – approximately
fortunate – fortunately, unfortunately
immediate – immediately
private – privately, and so on.
As you can see, it can get a bit tricky when we have to decide in a split second whether we are using a verb or not. Moreover, some words are quite similar:
- dedicate /eɪt/ but delicate /ət/
- emigrate /eɪt/ but emirate /ət/
What’s more, as you saw from the sentence at the top, there is a considerable number of words which can be verb/noun or verb/adjective. They are spelt the same, but the ending is pronounced differently.
You can find plenty of examples on my PDF: ATE_Wordlists
Finally, let’s dedicate just a bit more time to verbs.
An -ed ending adds an extra syllable
When we add an -ed ending after a /t/ sound, we need to sneak in an extra /ɪ/. This makes verbs one syllable longer.
That way, we say
- create /krɪˈeɪt/ but created /krɪˈeɪtɪd/
- debate /dɪˈbeɪt/ but debated /dɪˈbeɪtɪd/
- generate /ˈʤenəreɪt/ but generated /ˈʤenəreɪtɪd/, and so on.
To sum up:
- If -ate is at the end of a verb, say /eɪt/.
- When adding an -ed ending to a verb, you add a syllable: /eɪtɪd/.
- At the end of nouns and adjectives (and their corresponding adverbs), use /ət/.
There are a few exceptions, which you can also find on my PDF. ATE_Wordlists
Listen and practise
Here you can listen to the practice sentences.
Imitate the –ate words separately, then in a sentence. Repeat what you heard several times until you feel confident.
The verbs with the /eɪt/ sound are marked in green.
Nouns, adjectives and adverbs with the /ət/ sound are marked in purple.
- First, separate the egg whites from the yolks, and put them in separate bowls.
- A passionate teacher motivates her students.
- We appreciated the fact that he spoke to each of us separately.
- You’ll need adequate shoes to participate in the hike.
- She did her doctorate in the United Arab Emirates.
- He has a Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE).
- We are seeking to incorporate a corporate lawyer into our staff.
- Note the deliberate use of colour to create this delicate artwork.
- They donated their private collection to the state.
- We negotiated more appropriate conditions with the supplier.
- Both estimates quote a price of approximately 2,000 £.
- Fortunately, the children were found almost immediately.
Stay motivated and passionate about improving your English! And let me know what words you would add to the lists on the PDF. ATE_WordlistsATE_Wordlists