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Emphasis Patterns In English Words - By Sonya Maybury
Emphasis Patterns In English Words By Sonya Maybury
Speakers of English as a second language often pronounce these words wrongly. The following verses use rhymes to demonstrate the correct vowel sounds for each word.
English words of more than one syllable have distinct emphasis patterns. The emphasis pattern is a critical part of the word. Incorrect emphasis patterns may cause confusion for listeners. While there are no definitive rules, sadly, here are some guidelines.
Words of one syllable
Single syllable words are the easiest to pronounce: man, dog, cat, help, meet, work.
As a general rule, words of two syllables in English have the emphasis (stress) on the first syllable, not the second: SPREADsheet, THURSday, WEEKend, OVERtime.
Words which contain two or more syllables, such as "advertisement" may requireemphasis on the second, or even the third syllable, such as: adVERtisement, or "education" [ed-u-CAY-shun].
If a multi-syllable word is stressed inaccurately, listeners find it hard to understand. For example the title "software engineer" [SOFTwareENgineer] would be misunderstood if it were pronounced "softWARE" enGINeer".
Verb and noun forms of multi-syllable words
Some words perform as both a noun and a verb. Sometimes the word is stressed in exactly the same way whether it is a noun or a verb. At other times, the emphasis pattern changes in a subtle way as follows:
Same pronunciation for noun and verb forms:
Please prepare a "report" [REport] for me and "report" [REport] to me at 5.00 pm.
Different pronunciation for noun and verb forms of the same word:
The farm would produce (v) [proDUCE] dairy produce (n) [PROduce].
She did not object (v) [obJECT] to the glass object (n) [OBject].
He was asked to present (v) [preZENT] the birthdaypresent (n) [PREZent].
KEY TIP # 12: Multi-syllable words require correct emphasis patterns. Words which are both a noun and a verb may require two different emphasis patterns.
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