How to Pronounce Words that End in -ITY

Learning patterns of pronunciation in words that share the same suffix (word ending) can help you pronounce even unfamiliar words correctly. This, of course, can make you a better reader and communicator.  Since there are so many words in English that end in -ity and -ety, let’s take a look at the rule that can help you pronounce them all correctly. This will help you both expand your vocabulary and make yourself better understood. 

Words with the -ITY suffix

There are dozens of nouns in English that end in -ity, a suffix that denotes quality or condition.  Here are just a few of the more common ones. Try saying these out loud, making sure to stress the syllable that comes before the -ity.  Keep in mind that since the -ity is not stressed, the i should sound like a schwa. What’s more, since the t falls between 2 vowel sounds, it will be pronounced as a flap t:  

  • absurdity         ability                activity                adaptability
  • ambiguity        amenity             anonymity         artificiality
  • capability         commodity      community         complexity
  • immensity       probability       productivity        propensity
  • indivisibility    prosperity        inferiority           rarity    
  • Ingenuity         reality               continuity            agility

 

Words with the -ETY suffix

There are not many English words that end in -ety, but here are a few that have been borrowed from Old French. The same syllable stress pattern applies: stress the syllable that comes before the -ety.

  • anxiety         gaiety           nicety
  • piety             society          variety

 

Need help?

Now that you’ve mastered how to pronounce words that end in -ity and -ety, try some other suffixes!  To learn more about patterns of syllable stress and vowel sounds in words that share the same suffix, check out these articles:

For more on syllable stress, check out this article and video.   To get your specific pronunciation issues addressed and practice English, 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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