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Stress

Stress
Definition:
In speech, stress may be defined as the degree of intensity or loudness
placed on a sound; that is, the amount of force one puts on a syllable or
word to give it importance.

Type:
word stress vs. sentence stress

Significance:
Stress is such an important feature of spoke English that it determines
not only the rhythmic flow of words, but also the quality of the vowels.
Correct word and sentence stress in spoken English can mean the
difference between good communication and no communication at all.
Type of stress
Three types of stress can be found in English:

Primary stress refers to the strong emphasis a speaker puts
on the most important syllable of a particular word.
Secondary stress refers to a less strong emphasis on the
next most important syllable.
Zero stress refers to any syllable that receives no stress, and
it is also called unstressed syllable.
The frequent occurrence of unstressed syllable is one of the
fundamental characteristics of spoken English, and the one
that most distinguishes English from Chinese.
How to pronounce word stress?
When a syllable is stressed, it is pronounced

longer in duration
higher in pitch
louder in volume



e.g. teacher
Stressed Syllable
banana

ba NAAAA na
Syllable 1 Syllable 2 Syllable 3
(short) (long) (short)

vs. Unstressed Syllables
Stressed syllables are strong syllables.
Unstressed syllables are weak syllables.
Any English vowel letter can be pronounced with the
schwa //.

allow a
firemen e
possible i //
command o
support u

Schwa //
Strong and weak syllables
The vowel in a weak syllable tends to be shorter, of
lower intensity and different in quality.
father: the second syllable is shorter than the first, is
less loud and has a vowel that cannot occur in strong
syllables.
bottle: the weak second syllable contains no vowel at all,
but consists entirely of the consonant /l/. We call this a
syllabic consonant.
Word Stress Rule
Word type
Where is the
stress?
Examples
Two
syllables
Nouns
on the first
syllable
center
object
flower
Verbs
on the last
syllable
release
admit
arrange
Compound
Nouns
(N + N)
(Adj. + N)
on the first part
desktop
pencil case
bookshelf
greenhouse
Adjectives
(Adj. + P.P.)
on the last part
(the verb part)
well-meant
hard-headed
old-fashioned
Verbs
(prep. + verb)
understand
overlook
outperform
Word type
Where is the
stress?
Examples
Phrasal Verbs on the particle
turn off
buckle up
hand out
Word with
added
ending
-ic
the syllable before
the ending
economic
Geometric
electrical
-tion, -cian, -
sion
Technician
graduation
cohesion
-phy, -gy, -try,
-cy, -fy, -al
the third from the
last syllable
Photography
biology
geometry
-meter
Parameter
Thermometer
barometer
Sentence Stress
Sentence stress refers to the word or words in a sentence
that receive a strong accent.
Sentence stress is what gives English its rhythm or "beat".
Word stress is accent on one syllable within a word.
Sentence stress is the strong accent on certain words within
a sentence.
Sentence stress is the music of spoken English. Like word
stress, sentence stress can help you to understand spoken
English, especially when spoken fast.

Examples of sentence stress
e.g. I am happy because I am with you.


I am happy / because I am with you.

I am `happy because I am with you.
I am happy because I am with `you.
Most sentences have two types of word:

content words (information words)
function words (structure words)

Content words are the key words of a sentence. They
are the important words that carry the meaning or sense.
function words have little or no meaning in themselves.
They are small, simple words that make the sentence
correct grammatically.

If you remove the function words from a sentence, you will
probably still understand the sentence.
Content words are usually nouns, verbs, adjectives, and
adverbs.
They give information about who, what, when, where, why, and
how.
They express the main idea or content of the phrase or sentence.
They carry the message and therefore usually stressed.
Unstressed words are usually function words like articles,
pronouns, possessives, prepositions, auxiliary verbs, and
conjunctions.
These words connect the information words to form grammatical
sentences.
Practice makes
perfect!
A native speaker may emphasize any word in order to express
a particular idea.

--- I mean the book in the desk, not on the desk.
--- He did go there.
--- The truck has been hit by another truck.

--- Did you say bread? Here you are.
--- I said bread and butter.

What are the conditions which may cause a normally unstressed
word to become stressed, and vice versa?
There are three levels of stress in English sentences:

Strong stress (focus words)
Stress (content words)
Unstressed words (function words)
Many thanks!