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Some words can be either a verb or a noun depending on where you place the stress.
The following words all have 2 syllables. When the first syllable is stressed the word is a noun. When the second syllable is stressed, the word is a verb.
 

Listen to some examples.
   

 
English Word Stress

What is STRESS?

• Stressed syllables in speech are those which are l o n g e r, LOUDER and hiGHer in pitch or loudness. It’s the part that you give the most emphasis to when you speak

• From the point of view of the speaker, stress involves using more energy as the speaker pushes air from the lungs and articulates syllables.

• From the listener’s perspective, the most obvious features of stress are probably longer vowel duration in the stressed syllable and higher pitch* (pitch = tono).
1. refund (noun) / refund (verb)

2. per
mit (verb) / permit (noun)

3.
increase (noun) / increase (verb)
 
Listen again and repeat.
   

Now listen to the following words and decide if they are nouns or verbs.
   

1. Transport     6. Progress  
2. Record     7. Produce  
3. Protest     8. Refund  
4. Decrease     9. Import  
5. Export     10. Insult  

Answers Check your answers.

Complete the sentences with one of the above words. You may need to change the form of the word.

1. I’m trying to a podcast for my website, but my microphone isn’t working.
2. Have you been following the of the Large Hadron Collider project near Geneva?
3. Due to the global economic crisis there has been a sharp in unemployment.
4. Demonstrators were in Brussels yesterday against the high unemployment figures.
5. How dare you call me a liar. I have never been so in all my life.
6. Brazil and a lot of coffee.
7. Because of the wide use of CCTV cameras in the UK, street crime has by 17% in the last 12 months.
8. Bob ate 9 boiled eggs in 3 minutes. That must be a .
9. The public system in Japan is one of the best and most efficient in the world.
10. More people are looking for natural, chemical-free these days. Especially organically grown fruit and vegetables.

Listen to check.
   

Answers Check your answers.

Listen and repeat the sentences.
   

Sometimes the stress can change the meaning of a word. Match the words below with their definitions, depending on which part of each word is stressed.

1. Refuse (noun) Something that is thrown away as worthless or useless; rubbish; trash; garbage.
(verb) To decline to accept something that is offered.
Refuse (noun) Something that is thrown away as worthless or useless; rubbish; trash; garbage.
(verb) To decline to accept something that is offered.
2. Minute (noun) the sixtieth part ( 1/60 ) of an hour; sixty seconds.
(adjective) extremely small in size or amount
Minute (noun) the sixtieth part ( 1/60 ) of an hour; sixty seconds.
(adjective) extremely small in size or amount
3. Desert (noun) a dry and arid region with little rainfall (The Sahara, for example)
(verb) to leave a person or a place, etc.) without intending to return
Desert (noun) a dry and arid region with little rainfall (The Sahara, for example)
(verb) to leave a person or a place, etc.) without intending to return
4 Present (noun) the present time, now. Also a gift
(verb) to give or offer, often in a formal way
Present (noun) the present time, now. Also a gift
(verb) to give or offer, often in a formal way
5. Invalid (noun) an infirm or sickly person.
(adjective) not valid; without force or foundation; indefensible. Not legal.
Invalid (noun) an infirm or sickly person.
(adjective) not valid; without force or foundation; indefensible. Not legal.
6. Contract (noun) an agreement (especially business) for doing or not doing something.
(verb) to become smaller, shorten
Contract (noun) an agreement (especially business) for doing or not doing something.
(verb) to become smaller, shorten
7. Object (noun) A material thing
(verb) To present an opposing argument; to express disapproval of something
Object (noun) A material thing
(verb) To present an opposing argument; to express disapproval of something
8. Content (noun) Capacity. What is inside a book, document, box etc.
(adjective) Satisfied. Not wanting more.
Content (noun) Capacity. What is inside a book, document, box etc.
(adjective) Satisfied. Not wanting more.

Answers Check your answers.

Listen and repeat the following sentences.
   

1. Refuse   I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse
Refuse   A dustman collects refuse.
2. Minute   Digital devices are becoming more minute as technology advances.
Minute   Wait a minute!
3. Deserted   He deserted the army and got 2 years in jail.
Desert   Las Vegas was built in a desert.
4 Present   On behalf of the company, I’d like to present you with this award.
Present   Here’s a little Christmas present for you.
5. Invalid   You can only park here if your car has an invalid sticker.
Invalid   If your passport’s out of date, it’s invalid.
6. Contract   If we reach an agreement, we’ll have to draw up a contract.
Contract   When you heat metal it expands. When it cools it contracts.
7. Object   Object – UFO stands for unidentified flying object.
Object   I objected to the way he talked down to me.
8. Content   If you turn to the contents page, it’ll be easier to find what your looking for.
Content   I wouldn’t say I’m extremely happy with my life at the moment, but I am content.

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