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Saturday December 13th, 2008
English Pronunciation Podcast 14-
Syllable Stress :
This podcast teaches you the right way to stress a syllable, and teaches you how to determine which syllable is stressed in 2 syllable words.

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In today's podcast, we're going to learn the rules of syllable stress in 2 syllable words. We'll also discuss how to correctly stress a syllable or a word in English..

What is "stress" and how do we stress a word or syllable in English?

A lot of people have the wrong idea of how to stress a word or syllable in English. Many students think that you stress a word or syllable by using volume. This is not correct.
The real way that Americans stress a syllable or word is using two simple methods:

  • raise the pitch of the stressed syllable
  • lengthen the vowel of the stressed syllable

Example: Put it on the table.

The first syllable of" table" has a long vowel and a raised pitch.

Example: Have some coffee.

The first syllable of coffee has a longer vowel and a raised pitch.

How to Determine which Syllable of a Word is Stresed:

The rules are useful but not the only way to learn syllable stress. Remembering stress through your memory, through the rhythm of the word is great and a lot closer to the way native speakers learn stress. At the same time, knowing the rules is useful for correcting past mistakes and for learning new words which you encounter.

Rule 1: Two syllable nouns and adjectives are usually stressed on the first syllable:

  • determine part of speech (noun, adjective or verb)
  • if the 2 syllable word is a noun or adjective, stress the first syllable

Example: table:
longer vowel and higher pitch on the first syllable

Example: office

longer vowel and higher pitch on the first syllable

Exercise : Listen and Repeat the following 2 syllable nouns:

pilot... silence... teacher ... student ...sugar ...

Exercise : Listen and repeat the following 2 syllable adjectives:

scary ... silent ... funny ... pleasant ...

Rule 2: :Two syllable verbs may be stressed on the first or the second syllable. If the verb begins with a latin prefix, don't stress the prefix, stress the root (main part).

Examples of prefixes: pre-, com-,

Exercise: Here are some of the main prefixes which occur in English. Listen and repeat the following verbs which contain prefixes.

ad - admit ... admire ...

be- become ... betray ..

com- complain ... commit ...

con- convince ... contain ...

de- depend .... deny ...

mis- mistreat ...misplace ...

pre- pretend ...prepare ...

re- repeat ...relieve ...

sub- subtract... .submit

sup- support ... suppose ...

Exercise: Listen and repeat the following verbs which do not contain latin prefixes and are stressed on the first syllable:

finish ... frighten ... mention ...listen ... offer ... purchase ... soften ...

Rules are helpful as references points. But in the end, the best way to learn syllable stress is through memorization, feeling and thinking of language like music and rhythm.
Learning a language is a lot like learning music; theory is great but practice repetition and training get the best results.!

Looking for more practice? Try  Best Accent Training mp3s!

Any questions, comments or suggestions ? Contact us at:  contact@englishpronunciationpod.com

Thank you and see you next time!

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