is phenolate a strong or weak base? I have read somewhere that it would be a weak base. However, since phenolate is the conjugate base of phenol, which is a weak acid, I would think that phenolate is a strong base. My general understanding is that strong conjugate base or acid is formed from a weak acid or base, respectively. Could someone help me?
Whether a base is considered strong or weak depends heavily on context. It is thus much better to consider the relative strength of acids and of bases rather than making absolute statements that one acid is strong or weak. This is best done by comparing the pKa values of acids (or conjugate acids in the case of bases). Phenol has a pKa of about 10.0 so it is a stronger acid than water (pKa 15.7), but weaker than acetic acid (pKa 4.8). You are correct that when comparing two acids, the stronger acid has the weaker conjugate base and vice versa. Therefore, we would expect phenolate (conjugate base of phenol) to be a stronger base than the acetate (conjugate base of acetic acid), but a weaker base than hydroxide (the conjugate base of water).