Learn how to pronounce the words SEPARATE & SEPARATE with this American English heteronym pronunciation lesson. Heteronyms are words that are spelled exactly the same. They just have a different pronunciation and a different meaning.


Adjective: /ˈsɛprət/ or sep-rit

Verb: /ˈsɛpəˌreɪt/ or sep-uh-rate


Adjective: not joined together

Verb: to divide into groups


Hello Jennifer from Tarle speech with your heteronym lesson. Heteronyms as many of you know are words that are spelled the same but have different meanings and different pronunciations. We have a syllable difference today. Um we have separate which is the adjective meaning not joined together and separate which means to divide into groups and it is a verb.

Let’s start with the adjective separate: two beats here, two syllables, sep rit

To say these syllables we’re gonna start with that s. Move to that short e and then end with the t. Tip of the tongue is down for that s in the middle of the mouth just peeking out between the top and the bottom teeth for that eh and then mouth closes for the p. sep sep

Then we’re going to move to RIT start with that R ER. Square tense lips, tip of the tongue is down or flipped back, back of the tongue is pulled high up. Move to the short e sound. Your tongue is a little bit higher than it was for that e. You’re gonna close your mouth a little bit and your tongue is just going to be behind those top front teeth. That’s not touching. And with the T touch the tip of the tongue to the back of the top front teeth and let the air puff out. sep rit separate separate separate

Now for the verb. We have three syllables, that’s most important. You have a couple of variations which sound the same to most people but one might be easier than the other for pronunciation purposes. So we’re going to start with that sep. Again we know how to do that. Option number one is to say ER next as a syllable. ER. And to do that square tense lips, tip of the tongue is down, or flipped back. er er er

Then you end syllable number three with ate like I ate dinner. And to do that, open your mouth wide a and then move to a closed mouth and then touch the tip of the tongue to the back of the top front teeth for that t. Air Puffs out as your tongue pulls down a sep er ate sep er ate separate separate separate

So you can all say also say sep uh with that schwa then and the word with rate starting with that R and then adding the ate. So sep uh rate separate separate separate

So we have the adjective two syllables separate separate separate and then we have the verb separate separate separate or sep uh rate separate separate

Now for syllable stress you’re going to start by stressing syllable one in separate separate separate. We’re also going to draw syllable number one and separate separate separate. Which you might be hearing a second stressed syllable that is less stressed than the sep it gets the secondary stress which is that last syllable.

So let’s put these all together again separate separate separate separate separate separate

And now for a sentence: Please use separate bins to separate the recycling.

Give it a try people are going to notice the difference. If you found this helpful please give us a like, a share, subscribe, leave us a comment, and check us out at tarle speech.

Thanks so much everyone have a great weekend!