As the question states, I would love to know why the two uses of Articulate are pronounced with endings 'lit' vs 'late'.

There is a large list of grammatical use heteronyms of this type, but I cannot find information on the possible formation of this aspect of english.

  • Same with postulate as noun and verb. Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 19:52
  • 1
    This happens to lots of words.
    – Barmar
    Commented Mar 25, 2017 at 10:12
  • @Barmar : You should notice that the original poster already pointed out, via a link, that this happens with lots of words. "separate", "subordinate", "estimate", "alternate", "predicate", "pontificate", "moderate", "duplicate", "deliberate", "delegate", "coordinate", "advocate", "associate", etc. etc. Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 21:54
  • @MichaelHardy He just added that 12 minutes ago.
    – Barmar
    Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 22:00
  • Yeah, @Barmar 's comment was useful for me to track down more information and changing the question to a more useful one.
    – Nat
    Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 1:19

1 Answer 1


With the exception of some verbs with exactly the same pronunciation as corresponding nouns, normally verbs do not allow two contiguous unstressed syllables, while many nouns and adjectives do allow contiguous unstressed syllables. If the verb "arTIculATE" had no secondary stress on its last syllable, it would violate this general rule.

(I proposed this in an old paper "English Word and Phrase Stress" in the collection by Goyvaerts Essays on The Sound Pattern of English.)

The account of this in The Sound Pattern of English depends on the cyclic application of phonological rules in English and an arbitrary reduction of certain low-stressed syllables. The adjective "arTICulate" is derived from the verb "arTICulATe", and so the last syllable is reduced in stress by an extra level. This very low level of stress is then lost entirely by an arbitrary rule.


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