In this weeks podcast, we're going to continue learn how to determine which syllable of a word is stressed. Often times, students aren't sure which syllable to stress when they see a long word with three or more syllables. Stressing the right syllable of a word, is an important part of speaking English clearly and correctly.
Stressing the right syllable will make it much easier for native speakers to understand you.
As we discussed in previous podcasts, if you have a long word of three or more syllables and you want to know where the stress is, you have to look at the suffix of the word. The suffix is the word ending. The suffix is a signal which will tell you which syllable to stress in the word.
In this week's podcast, we're going to focus on words that end with the suffix <ate> as in "activate" and "investigate."
The focus of this week's podcast is:
Learning the rule for determining the stress in words that end in <ate>.
Practicing this rule in some key words and exercises .
Listen and repeat the following words, paying careful attention to syllable stress:
activate... investigate... underestimate
Notice how these words all end with the suffix <ate> and yet the stress falls on a different syllable of each word.
In "activate" it falls on the first syllable.
In "investigate" it falls on the second syllable.
and in "underestimate", it falls on the third syllable.
So how do we know which syllable we should stress?. The answer is this:
Rule: If a word ends in <ate> suffix , stress the syllable that comes two syllables before the suffix.
For example, "activate" has three syllables. Count back two syllables from the suffix and we find the stress on /æ/,
"investigate" has four syllables. Count back two syllables from the suffix <ate> and we find the stress on /vɛ/
Any time you see a word with three or more syllables which ends in <ate>, and your'e not sure where the stress is,
just follow the rule- count back two syllables and there you have the (main) stress.
It doesn't matter how long the word is. It doesn't matter if you've never seen the word before and you know the meaning or not.
You know now have a method for determining where the stress falls for words ending in <ate>.
If you want to learn the rules for other suffixes like <ize> or <ion>, you can find lessons in previous podcasts and find even more detailed lessons
in my English pronuciation course in mp3- Best Accent Training mp3s.
Exercise: Let's practice some more examples of words ending in <ate>. Notice how the stress always falls two syllables before the suffix.
Now of course native speakers don't learn syllable stress by learning rules. We learn it by hearing and feeling the rhythm of the word as children.
As a student of English as a second language,it's useful to know the rules of syllable stress and that why I'm providing them to you today.
But it's also a good idea to try to learn stress in a more organic way.
So here's an exercise you can do on your own to help you get a feel for the rhythm and stress of long words in English.
Exercise : Make a list of words which have the same suffix. For example: words which all end in <ate>.
Then repeat them over and over, getting into a rhythm, almost like your singing or rapping:
By repeating theses words, you begin to memorize the stress pattern for the suffix <ate>. It begins to become ingrained in your mind.
The Importance of Training
A big part of English pronunciation and accent reduction is repetition- repeating words and sounds over and over again until you
commit them to memory.
Through repetition, you'll begin to master the sounds of English. You'll develop what's known as muscle memory-
the ability to do something automatically without thinking.
Think of dancers, athletes and musicians- how do they get so good at what they do?
They practice and repeat over and over again!
The same is true for English pronunciation and accent reduction training.
It's important to have good training tools to practice your pronunciation.