Stress

Now, we're gonna talk about 'stress' when speaking English. Do you wanna expand your knowledge? Well then, you're at the right place.

Stress

What Is Stress?

English is a language in which different parts of a word or a sentence are pronounced with more emphasis. In other words, when a syllable or a part of a sentence is stressed, we pronounce it louder and with more force.

Uses

Stress has several uses in the English language. As you might already know, many words have more than one meaning and therefore, more than one part of speech in English. In order to recognize what grammatical function that word has in a particular context, we must pay attention to where a word is 'stressed'. It also helps us understand which vowels to pronounce in a particular word. It helps us understand whether consonants in a word are stressed or not.
Another use of stress is that it helps us pay attention to the length of vowels. In other words, it is important to know which vowels should be pronounced shorter and which ones should be longer. It also helps us with intonation and realize where we should speak higher and lower. It also helps us manage how loud we pronounce particular words.

Rules

Below, we have provided some basic rules for you to base 'stressing' on them. Look below:

  • Whenever we have either a noun or an adjective that comprises of a one-syllable word, the stress is always on the one-syllable word. Check out the following table:
race racist
manage manageable
actual actually
dancer dancer
get beget
mindful mindful
  • Another rule is that whenever we want to recognize whether a word is a noun or a verb, we must pay attention to the stressed part. Check out:
Noun Verb
an increase to increase
a subject to subject
an address to address
a contrast to contrast
an impact to impact
a present to present
a permit to permit
a transport to transport
  • When we have compound nouns, nouns that are made up of two nouns, the stress is on the first word. Look at the following examples:

Household

Volleyball

Scrapbook

Waterfall

  • Whenever you encounter words ending in '-eer', remember that the stress is always on the ending. Check out the examples below:

Veneer

Career

Puppeteer

Musketeer

  • Whenever we have a prefix in the word, the stress comes after it. Look at the following examples:

Illegal

Immoral

Unravel

Devalue

  • When it comes to multigraphs, the stress is always on the syllable before them. Check out the following table to get to know some common multigraphs:
-tion/-cion -ic/-ical -ety/-ity -ience/-ious/-ial
Commotion Robotic Propriety Resilience
Compulsion Demographical Masculinity Efficacious
Petition Symbolic Fraternity Territorial

Stress in Sentences

As was stated above, when we are uttering a sentence, some particular words are stressed. If we utter a sentence without any stress, it will be in monotone and everyone listening to us will get bored. However, if we stress all of the words, people might think we are insane. Below we have provided you with rules as to which words should we stress and which words we should not. Look:

Words like nouns, action verbs, adjectives, and adverbs are usually stressed. These words are called content words. Look:

Nouns like: car, dress, cat, bag, etc.

Adjectives like: slim, chubby, ignorant, happy, etc.

Adverbs like: quickly, overtly, inwardly, satisfactorily, etc.

Action verbs like: touch, come, scream, write, etc.

Words that are mainly used to modify others are not stressed. These words can be determiners, auxiliary verbs, subordinating, and coordinating conjunctions and personal pronouns. We categorize these words as structure or function words. Look:

The goal of stress is that people communicates effectively and clearly. So, we mainly stress the most important parts of what we are saying. Look below:

Can I go out now?

Warning!

Note that whenever we have a chain of words that are all stressed in a sentence, the last word should be uttered with the most tension and stress. Look below:

Mary wants to buy a new book.

In informal and daily conversations, sometimes people omit unnecessary 'structure' words to say what they want to say more quickly. This mainly happens in messaging. Look at the sentence below:

Car crashed help!

As you can see in the example above, the content words are all stressed and the sentence is not grammatically correct but the listener will understand the meaning.

English native speakers mainly stress words based on the meaning they want to convey. Below, we have provided you with examples to see how a sentence can be uttered differently when the stress is changed and how it differs in meaning:

Is Anna sleeping on the floor?

Is Anna sleeping on the floor?

Is Anna sleeping on the floor?

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