In words of more than one syllable, there will be one syllable which is more heavily stressed than the others. We say that this syllable carries the primary stress (eg. apartment). In some longer words, other syllables may carry secondary stress. The most important thing is to recognise where the primary stress is - and remember that it can change between words derived from the same base (eg. photograph, photographer, photographic).

If you stress a word incorrectly, it can be very difficult to understand, so it is important to learn how a word is stressed at the same time as you learn how to pronounce it. If your native language does not have a word stress pattern like that of English, you will need to be especially conscientious in learning the English forms!

  • Make sure you write down the word stress when you record new vocabulary - you could even mark the stressed syllable with a coloured highlighter!
  • When you pronounce new words, exaggerate the stressed syllables until it becomes natural for you to put the stress in the right place.

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