32: -ize suffix (as in 'recognize' and 'prioritize') word syllable stress

Words ending in the -ize suffix are usually stressed on the 3rd-from-last syllable.


Hi everyone, and welcome back to Seattle Learning Academy's American English Pronunciation Podcast. My name is Mandy, and this is our 32nd episode.

The past 2 episodes were about syllable stress, and today I am going to continue with that theme. I'm spending a lot of time talking about syllable stress because it really is a big deal. If you continually stress the wrong word while speaking, your listeners will undoubtedly miss parts of what you are saying. And, if you don't use syllable stress correctly, it will also mess up how you use intonation because intonation relates directly to stressed syllables. I will eventually get into shows specifically about intonation.

First today, let's review everything we learned so far about syllable stress.

We learned the 2-syllable word rule. It said that we will stress the first syllable of 2-syllable nouns, adjectives, and adverbs, and that we will stress the second syllable of 2-syllable verbs. It isn't always true, but it is often true.

Then we learned that suffixes, those short endings added to words, may dictate which syllable receives the stress. So far, we only learned suffixes that cause the syllable before the suffix to take the stress. Those were the -tion/-sion suffix, and the -ic suffix. We also learned that when we add the -al and -ally suffix to those suffixes, the stress stays in the same place it was before the secondary suffix was added. Let's review our examples from the last 2 weeks.

First, the -tion/-sion suffix. Remember, we stress the word on the syllable before the -tion or -sion, even when -al or -ally is also added to the word.

Listen to the syllable stress in the word profession. It is on the -fes- syllable of the word. It stays there for the words professional, and professionally.

Now listen to an -ic suffix example. Here is a short little word, classic. I can add -al, and get classical, or add -ally and get classically.

Today I am going to tell you about the -ize/-ise suffix. This suffix is used to create verbs, often from nouns and adjectives. I want to add that Americans are more likely to spell these verbs with a z, and British are more likely to use the s spelling. In the transcripts for this show I am only going to use the American spellings of words in order to keep it simple. I'd go crazy if I were to check each spelling to see if it is different from what I am most accustomed to. I certainly mean no disrespect to English speaking countries with other spellings.

So, the -ize suffix creates verbs, and those verbs will be stressed in the third to last syllable. I know it is hard to hear these long words, then need to think backwards to figure out the stress. Sorry about that. Until an intuitive knowledge of these rules is acquired, you're stuck counting or comparing to another word with the same number of syllables.

Let's look at some examples. First, here are a few 3-syllable words. Repeat the words after me if you can.




And here are few 4-syllable words. Again, please repeat after me.




(Note: This podcast incorrectly states that hospitalize is stressed on the third from the last syllable; it is, in fact stressed on the fourth from the last syllable.)

Because these words are verbs, I want to mention that when an -ing, -ed or -s suffix gets added to these words because we need to conjugate them, the stressed syllable stays in the same place that is in with the original word, even though a syllable gets added to the word.

As an example, advertise is stressed on the first syllable, -ad-, because it is the third from the last syllable of the word. The word advertises will stay stressed on that syllable, as will the words advertising and advertised. In fact, -ing, -ed, and -s endings will never cause a shift in which syllable is stressed, no matter what word they're added to.

I am choosing to go through these syllable stress rules slowly instead of giving them all to you at once because they take a lot of memorizing and I don't want them to all blur together in your mind. Spend time reading in English and find all the words that use these rules. Notice how frequently they happen, and say each word aloud to practice each rule. Just like all the rest of perfecting a language, it takes a lot of attention and practice.

So far, you should have rules for -tion/-sion, -ic, and -ize words memorized. In fact, the word memorize, follows the -ize rule. The third from the last syllable takes the stress.

Now I've got a quick promotional note, because your purchases from Pronuncian.com make it possible for me to spend the time on these podcasts. The text, Pronunciation Pages, Sound of American Accent, has a chapter on syllable stress, including a nice list of words that are quite frequent and follow these rules. I'd encourage you to read those lists aloud so you can start to develop a more intuitive approach to syllable stress. You can purchase that text from Pronuncian.com for $25US, and you can buy it and the MP3 sound files for the combination price of $30US. That is pretty inexpensive, and you get 4 1/2 hours of audio with those files.

I'm not sure yet if I'll spend one or two more weeks talking about syllable stress, I don't want it to get boring. You can always email me and tell me if you want me to keep talking about this topic, or move on. My email is podcast@p-r-o-n-u-n-c-i-a-n.com. In fact you can email me about any aspect of this podcast. I want to thank Maksymilian, in Germany, for giving me a tip that may help the sound quality of the show. I hope this shows sounds better than ever, and everyone owes it to him. Thank you Maksymilian.

Don't forget, all the podcast transcripts are available for free online at www.pronuncian.com, and the transcripts pages have links to other free lessons online to give you more information.

This has been a Seattle Learning Academy digital publication. Seattle Learning Academy is where the world comes to learn.

Thanks for listening everyone!