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Why You At Times Miss The Pronunciations Of Request, Address, Import Etc.

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Aderinola Bunmi
Science Laboratory Technology
Aspirant, Nigeria.

There are many words with more than one meaning. Indeed, those with a single meaning are going to be rare. Wherever you are now reading this, just look around and consider the names of the objects you see. Then, try to remember the other meanings and uses associated with them.

In the sitting room where I am sitting writing this article, for instance, I can see a chair, a carpet, table, fan ceiling etc. We all know the meanings of the words, but each of them means something different outside the home and office environments. The same chair on which we sit can mean ‘to act as the chairman’ in the statement, ‘I will chair the meeting.’ The same carpet on the floor becomes something else in ‘carpet grass’ while the breeze-blowing fan is something else in ‘I am not a fan of Naira Marley.’

Another side to the power of many English words to mean different things has to do with those that perform the functions of a noun and a verb without changing forms. Many words do so, really. But the focus is on those that exhibit variation in pronunciation when they move from nouns to verbs and vice versa. The fact is that, as far as the terms are concerned, the stress pattern (syllable stress) changes as they transform into the other part of speech. In other words, the form of each of the words concerned does not change, but their pronunciations change. Unfortunately, many of us do not indicate this when speaking, so that we erroneously pronounce both the same way. The stressed sound must come out louder than others.

They forwarded the request for a car to me.

They request a car every week.

Consider the use of ‘request’ in the two clauses above. In the first, it is a noun, but a verb in the second. The point to note, however, is that although there is no change in the spellings of the words, when you pronounce them, there is. This is particularly about the stress pattern, that is, the sound (syllable) to emphasise in both. You know, the word has two syllables: RE-QUEST. When used as a noun, the stress (emphasis in pronunciation) is on the first syllable. But when a verb, the second syllable is stressed:

They forwarded the RE-quest for a car to me.

They re-QUEST a car every week.

So, always be sure if you are using the word as a noun or verb at a particular time, and indicate the stress accordingly. As I noted earlier, a lot of us do not show this when speaking. It is not good as it is a mark of deficiency in the language.

I hope you remember why I did not put ‘for’ after ‘request’ in the second sentence. I did not write ‘They request FOR a car…’ When used as verbs, request, order, advocate, solicit etc. do not need for:

They requested for two envelopes. (Wrong)

They requested two envelopes. (Correct)

The teacher advocated for parents’ participation. (Wrong)

The parents advocated parents’ participation. (Correct)

Back to the main issue, apart from ‘request’, these other words function as nouns and verbs. You must vary their stress patterns too when used in both capacities: address, access, export, import, increase, decrease, record, permit, contest, update, survey and assent. This is the way you should place the stress:

I need his ADD-ress. (Noun)

I want to add-RESS the letter. (Verb)

She has A-ccess to the room.

She cannot a-CCESS the room.

We are waiting for the President’s A-ssent.

We doubt if the President will a-SSENT to the bill.


You must, however, note that there are many other words that can be nouns and verbs (in different contexts) without exhibiting any change in their pronunciation or stress patterns. In other words, do not overgenaralise by saying that since the examples we have given change patterns, every other word that plays the role of a noun and verb must attract a change in pronunciation. These, among others, don’t change: police, record, increase, import, capture, rally, party, shout, cry, arm, copy and power.

Source: https://punchng.com/why-you-at-times-miss-the-pronunciations-of-request-address-import-etc/

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