How to Pronounce Words that End in -ATE

Did you know that there are 4000 words in the English language that end with the suffix -ate: nouns, adjectives and verbs?!   AND did you know that the final -ate sound can be pronounced in two different ways?  Before we discuss how to pronounce words that end in -ate, what does -ate actually mean when used as a suffix? 

The meaning of -ate 

When forming adjectives:

  • possessing; having the appearance or characteristics of, full of:  
    • examples: fortunate, passionate, considerate

When forming nouns

  • a group of people: electorate 
  • an area ruled by: caliphate
  • office, institution: magistrate, consulate
  • a chemical compound: carbonate, acetate

When forming some verbs:

  • “cause to become (like); act as: 
    • Example 1: regular + -ate → regulate (= make regular, act by rule) 
    • Example 2: active + -ate → activate (= cause to become active) 

The 2 pronunciations of -ate 

Now that you have an idea of how the -ate suffix affects the meaning of a word, let’s consider how to pronounce words that end in -ate.  Easy, -ate sounds like the number eight, right?   Well, that’s only half right.  The pronunciation of -ate will depend on the word’s part of speech, whether it’s an adjective, noun or verb.  

Here are 2 pronunciation rules to keep in mind when practicing the words below: 

  1. Typically the –ate  in verbs is pronounced as ‘8.’
  2. The –ate  in nouns or adjectives, however, is pronounced as ‘it’ 



Nouns:                      Adjectives:                            Verbs: 

advocate                     elaborate                               elaborate

affiliate                        fortunate                                affiliate

aggregate                   articulate                                articulate

certificate                   desperate                               captivate

electorate                   ultimate                                  animate


Keeping in mind the rules for how to pronounce words that end in -ate, take a look at the following sentence and try to figure out how to read it properly.  

The ideal candidate should have adequate experience, be a graduate from an accredited business program, be able to cooperate with others and demonstrate excellent negotiating skills.

Need help?

To learn more about patterns of syllable stress and vowel sounds in words with the same suffix, check out these articles

 To learn more about English pronunciation and practice it in conversation, join SpeakUp, a dynamic program that engages you in authentic conversations on relevant topics and provides you with feedback from a professional and experienced English teacher.  The first week is free for you to try it out! 

Anita Collins

Anita Collins

Anita is a long-time English teacher and language enthusiast from Canada, currently living in the multilingual city of Montreal. She majored in linguistics, dabbled in translation, and has been teaching students from all over the world for over a decade. She now spends each morning trying to balance her two loves: planning the next trip and spoiling her beagle. The rest of her day she spends on curriculum design and language classes, with the beagle underfoot.
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