We all know that words that can be used both as nouns and verbs have a different stress pattern: http://www.wordstress.info/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Stress-Pattern-Change-noun-verb-pairs.pdf

As a non-native english speaker, I love rules. And, just like a young child, I make some (funny) mistakes when it comes to the exceptions. For instance, "award":

Because of the above-mentioned rule, I automatically pronounce the noun as "A-ward" and the verb as "a-WARd". I know that there is no "A-ward", but that's precisely my question:

Why do some pairs of verb/noun homographs not follow the stress change rules?

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    Lots and lots and lots of them. In particular, award is probably resistant because it starts with a /ə/. Consider also abuse (which changes pronunciation but not stress) and attempt. Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 14:11
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    Also, I should add that here, in Australia, I never (and I'll stress the never) heard anyone pronouncing "address"-verb different from "address"-noun, I always hear "ADdress" for both. Very confusing... Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 14:15
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    And the stress tends to change on words that don't follow this pattern. In particular, there are lots of words that follow this pattern in Southern (American) pronunciation, but not elsewhere. Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 14:20
  • Odd. I'm in Australia, and I never heard a "native" say ad'dress, although I have heard Americans say it. Australians normally say address' for both senses. In fact, the initial a is usually rendered as schwa, which would make it nearly impossible to put the stress on the first syllable. I do hear differences for most re- words and some de- words and I'm sure, many others.
    – DrSpleen
    Commented Aug 5, 2016 at 18:29

1 Answer 1


The only "rule" I know of about this is of no use predicting the stress of a noun from that of a corresponding verb, or the other way around. It's this: when the stress of a noun and corresponding verb differ, either the noun will have primary stress on an earlier syllable than the verb has or the verb will have a syllable stressed which is unstressed in the corresponding noun.

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