Suffix-derived Syllable Stress

The least intuitive syllable stress patterns are those associated with suffixes. There are so many suffixes that affect where stress will fall in a word that memorizing them all can be overwhelming.

At first glance, stressed syllables based on suffixes appear to not follow any pattern at all. For instance, the words classicspecific, and economic all include the -ic suffix. They are stressed on the first, second, and third syllables, respectively. The stress patterns can only be found when it is understood that syllables must be counted from the end of the word toward the beginning of the word. In fact, the words classicspecific, and economic all follow the same pattern of being stressed on the syllable before the -ic suffix.

-ic Suffix Stress Examples

  🌑  •  


 • 🌑 •


●  •  🌑 •      


• ●  •  🌑 •


When it is viewed in reverse, from the end of the word toward the front, the pattern emerges

Suffix-derived Stress Patterns

The following suffixes cause specific word stress patterns. 

1) One syllable before the suffix

2) Two syllables before the suffix

  • -cy, agency: A-gen-cy
  • -gy, apology: a-POL-o-gy
  • -phy, photography: pho-TOG-ra-phy
  • -fy, identify: i-DENT-i-fy
  • -ate, decorate: DEC-or-ate

3) Stress the suffix

  • -ee, employee: em-ploy-EE
  • -eer, engineer: en-gin-EER
  • -ese, Japanese: Jap-an-ESE