-ate Suffix Syllable Stress Pattern

The complex and versatile -ate suffix is used to create nouns, adjectives, and verbs. While the primary stress of most words containing the -ate falls on the third-from-last syllable, the suffix itself is pronounced differently depending on the part of speech the word is used in.

-ate suffix: nouns and adjectives

When a word containing an -ate suffix is a noun or an adjective, the vowel sound of the suffix is unstressed and is pronounced with a short i /ɪ/.

-ate suffix: verbs

When a word containing an -ate suffix is a verb, the vowel sound of the suffix is given a secondary stress and is pronounced with a long a /eɪ/.

Example -ate suffix sentence

The following sentence demonstrates the difference in pronunciation between -ate suffix nouns, adjective, and verbs.

They had to evaluate (verb) the certificate (noun) to be certain that it was accurate (adjective). 

-ate + -ly suffix adverbs

Adjectives ending in -ate can have an additional -ly added to them, creating an adverb. The primary stress of the word remains two syllables before the -ate suffix. However, the /t/ of the -ately suffix is usually pronounced as the glottal stop /ʔ/, a /t/ allophone.

-ate suffix Heteronyms

Some words containing the -ate suffix are heteronyms, meaning that a single spelling can have more than one pronunciation. When this occurs in words containing the -ate suffix, the suffix retains the pattern of nouns and adjectives being pronounced as /ɪ/ and verbs being pronounced as /eɪ/.

I'd like to elaborate (verb) on my proposal. 

The elaborate (adjective) house had twelve bedrooms and sixteen fireplaces.

-ate suffix heteronym examples

1) advocate:

(n) /ˈæd və kɪt/,
(v) /ˈæd və ˌkeɪt/

2) alternate:

(n/adj) /ˈɔl tɚ nɪt/,
(v) /ˈɔl tɚ ˌneɪt/

3) elaborate:

(adj) /ɪ ˈlæb (ə) rɪt/,
(v) /ɪ ˈlæb ə ˌreɪt/

4) initiate:

(n) /ɪ ˈnɪʃ i ɪt/,
(v) /ɪ ˈnɪʃ i ˌeɪt/

5) graduate:

(n) /ˈgræʤ u ɪt/,
(v) /ˈgræʤ u ˌeɪt/

6) separate:

(adj) /ˈsɛp (ə) rɪt/,
(v) /ˈsɛp ə ˌreɪt/