English Stress and Intonation

As with any other language, English language is dynamic, it is not only about being able to pronounce words properly: it is about making sense, and expressing the right ideas. This can be achieved by using both the right stress and intonation as you speak.

Many languages are syllabic languages (syllables have their own length), when it comes to English things are different since it is a stressed language: stress and intonation are particularly important in order to make sense while communicating.

Pay attention to intonation if your native language has different intonation patterns from English, and especially if you normally use a flat intonation - in English, this tends to signify boredom or sarcasm!

Donīt get frustrated if, at first hand, you do not get the right stress on words, it takes time to manage this. One of the best trips to learn to stress and intone is to look for the words that other speakers intone and stress as they talk. Listening will help you a lot as well as not paying too much attention to every word you pronounce, just focus on the stressed words.

Intonation is the name given to sentence stress, or what is sometimes called the "music of the language". Just as words have stressed syllables, sentences contain regular patterns of stressed words. In addition, the voice tends to rise, fall or remain flat in various different types of phrases and sentences.

Other tips:

  • If you find it hard to hear the intonation patterns, ask your teacher to give you some examples.
  • Ask your teacher whether there are particular areas where you have difficulty with intonation, and focus on those areas.
  • Write down some everyday sentences, and try to indicate the intonation patterns with stress symbols and arrows - check them with your teacher if you are unsure
Always remember that Stress and Intonation are as important as word pronunciation.

More about:
English Stressing Words


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