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soethe6's avatar

What are the stress rules for pronouncing words in English that end "-ive"?

Asked by soethe6 (537points) September 3rd, 2007

I’m particularly concerned with “purposive,” which I’m certain is pronounced PURposive. Others say purPOsive, which I’m sure is wrong, but they give as an example the rule for exPLOsive. I know that there’s a rule for these stress patterns—probably something having to do with the penultimate consonants. Any thoughts?

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3 Answers

glial's avatar

Everyone you ask will say it differently. It’s up to you.

I personally have never heard that word spoken.

andrew's avatar

According to the Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary, you are correct about the stress: PURposive.

I’m not sure about a general rule… I’m sure you’d be able to find enough loopholes to invalidate it—though for this example I’d say that the stress has more to do with the vowel sounds (rather than the consonents) in the second syllable of the base word: i.e. the schwa in purpose as opposed to the long o in explode.

soethe6's avatar

Thanks, Andrew. That’s exactly what I was looking for. I knew there was some reference or other where I could find this. I’ll refer to the Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary in the future.

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