Word Stress

When we pronounce words we use more energy to stress certain syllables in that word. This is called word stress.

When we stress a syllable the intonation or pitch of our voice goes up and the beat, or rythm, of the syllable gets longer. For unstressed syllables the intonation of our voice goes down or stays flat and the rythm gets shorter.

Let's use word art to look at how stress is used to pronounce the different syllables in the words passionate and moving. Think of how intonation and rhythm changes with changes in stress.

                image how intonation and rhythm change with word/syllable stress

As you can see, the first syllable in each word is stressed, so the intonation goes up and the beat or rhythm gets a little longer for the first syllable.

Which syllables in American-English words should you stress? You can always use your favorite dictionary to find out which syllables in a word are stressed and which are unstressed. You can also take time to learn the rules for stressing syllables in American-English words. You can learn more about the rules for syllable stress by visiting EnglishClub.com.

Another good web site that will teach you about the rules of syllable and word stress and will let you practice with quizzes and games is Sounds of English.org.

Let's practice. Below is a list of 20 words. Use your rules of word stress or your favorite dictionary to decide which syllable in each word should be stressed. Then use word art to write out the pronunciation of each word. Draw intonation going up and a longer beat for the stressed syllable and intonation going down and a shorter beat for the unstressed syllables. For example, the word election would look like this.


Let's take a quiz

Next: Sentence Stress

                          Program content & web design by Chris Opall © 2011.   Page last updated   July 28, 2012



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