Saturday, July 23, 2016

Stress in English pronunciation

English is known as a stressed language. 
Stressed languages are languages spoken with differing degrees of emphasis on the words and syllables in the sentences. 

The content of this page is not intended to be a set of rules but rather an attempt to show
that native speakers of English use regular patterns of stress when speaking.

Although stress and intonation are an important part of English pronunciation, learners must
remember that it would be impossible for anyone to speak naturally with a set of rules in mind. 
By far the best way to improve one's pronunciation is through constant contact with native 
speakers of English, either through conversation, by watching films and news channels, or
listening to the radio. 

However, the patterns of stress outlined below may be useful to learners, for example when
preparing a discussion or a presentation, and help them to feel more comfortable. 


In English we accentuate or stress ONE syllable in a word. 
We pronounce that syllable louder than others.
There are words with just one syllable (e.g.. mind), and words with one STRESSED syllable
and one or more WEAK syllables (e.g. remind, reminder, reminding).
In the examples below, bold letters indicate stressed syllables.

1) When a noun or adjective stems from a one-syllable word, (for example art, mind), the stress
 usually stays on the syllable of the original word.

art artist
break breakable
friend friendly
paint painter
come become 
mind  remind 

2) To differentiate between a noun and a verb with the same spelling, stress position changes.

  a decrease  to decrease
  an insult  to insult
  an object  to object
  a protest  to protest
  a record   to record 
  a rebel  to rebel
  a suspect  to suspect
  a transfer  to transfer

3) In compound nouns (two words merged into one) the stress is on the first part:

• bookshop
• football
• notebook
• toothbrush

4) The stress is generally at the end of words ending in -eer.

• auctioneer
• engineer
• pioneer
• volunteer

5) Stress usually falls AFTER prefixes :
• demolish
• dismiss
• prepare
• untie

6) Stress usually falls on the syllable BEFORE the following letters:
 (The words below are just some examples - there are many more.)

-ient, -cient, -ience,
-ial, -ual - ious
   Attention Automatic    Authority Convenient
   Competition DemocraticMajorityEfficient
   Obsession BiologicalGeographyPotential

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