Some background: I started to learn English in school since 1996 and the school only taught us British English, although sometimes the teachers also mentioned the difference between British English and American English.

I roughly remember the word "access" are pronounced differently as a verb or a noun, but I don't remember if this happens in British English or in American English. And what I remember is:

  • "access", noun, is pronounced as "/'æk.ses/", with "a" pronounced as "/æ/" in "apple" and the pronunciation stress in the first syllable.
  • "access", verb, is pronounced as "/ək'ses/", with "a" pronounced as "/ə/" in "accept" and the pronunciation stress in the second syllable.

But yesterday I was told they are ALL pronounced as "/'æk.ses/". Surprisingly (to me), I also found there is only one pronunciation in the dictionaries:

I doubt I remember it wrong, because when I learned the word many years ago, I made a lot of effort to make sure I pronounce them correctly when they play different parts in the speech. Also, our textbooks were published by British education companies with reputation so I don't think they were wrong.

I tend to guess this is the evolution of the language over the past two decades? Does this make sense? Because such changes happen in my mother tongue, too, that some word uses that I learned in the elementary school are seldomly used nowadays, and young people are no longer aware of the old uses.

Or it could just be my bad memory.. If this is the case, I'll feel really awful: I had made so much effort to carve something completely wrong in my brain.

  • 2
    I do not remember anyone in the UK pronouncing it with stress on the last syllable. That covers a period well before you started learning English.
    – mdewey
    Oct 28, 2021 at 13:29
  • 1
    According to this site, the pronunciation with the stress on the last syllable is a mispronunciation
    – Void
    Oct 28, 2021 at 13:53
  • @mdewey I asked my other friends who went to the same schooling system as I did, and none of them remembered "access" has different pronunciations, so it must be my bad memory. Void in the other comment provides another interesting web page and I'm wondering maybe I learned it correctly in the first place but got misguided later.
    – yaobin
    Oct 28, 2021 at 15:37
  • 1
    @Void is our local pronunciation guru so I suspect your memory may have been playing tricks on you.
    – mdewey
    Oct 28, 2021 at 16:07
  • 1
    The full OED online gives both pronunciations for the verb: "British /ˈaksɛs/, /əkˈsɛs/, U.S. /ˈækˌsɛs/". But the 1989 edition of the OED gave only the first-syllable stress. I don't recall ever hearing /əkˈsɛs/, in any case.
    – rjpond
    Oct 28, 2021 at 18:09

1 Answer 1


'Access' is pronounced the same as a verb and as a noun in British English. Perhaps you were thinking of the difference between:

access - stress on first syllable; accessible - stress on middle syllable

And similarly: excess - stress on first syllable; excessive - stress on middle syllable

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