Careful with Words Used as Noun and Verb
English has numerous word pairs that are spelled alike, but pronounced differently according to whether the word is being used as a noun or as a verb.
Some examples are conduct, digest, escort, insult, produce, and record. With each of these words, and others like them, the accent shifts according to the part of speech. Here are some examples:
I do not approve of his cónduct. John Williams will condúct the symphony .
He subscribes to the Congressional Dígest. Some food is difficult to digést.
Charlie will be her éscort. He will escórt her to the Prom.
That last remark was an ínsult. How dare you insúlt your father?
Celery and tomatoes are fresh próduce. These factories prodúce the finest widgets.
That’s his fifth platinum récord. Let’s recórd the baby’s first word.
You will notice that for the noun the accent falls on the first syllable; for the verb, on the second.
Some noun/verb pairs shift in pronunciation and in spelling. These are the ones writers need to be aware of. Here are a few that I’ve seen misused :
Take his advice with a grain of salt. Who will advise the king?
He likes a warm bath. They bathe in the river.
It’s cold enough to see our breath. Don’t breathe the chemical fumes.
The shoes are made of cloth. Feed the hungry and clothe the naked.
He felt grief at the death of the child. He must be allowed time to grieve.
Here, I’ll give you half. The new invention will halve production costs.
What is the proof of your contention? He worked night and day to prove his innocence.
A prophecy of Merlin foretold the Maid. Prophesy unto the wind, for the wind will listen.
Browse all articles on the Spelling category or check the recommended content for you below:
Improve your English in 5 minutes a day! Subscribe to our Writing Tips and Exercises via Email
- You will improve your English in only 5 minutes per day, guaranteed!
- Subscribers get access to our archives with 800+ interactive exercises!
- You'll also get three bonus ebooks completely free!