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Learn English Pronunciation: Rhythm and Stress


Rule 2: As your meaning becomes more complex, the stress will change. After the important information has become understood during a story, conversation or presentation, you will stress words that show difference or add description.

These are adjectives and adverbs including "just," "only," "always" or "never," as well as even more simple words like "this" and "that."  For instance, if I am telling a story about someone I saw, I might say, "This woman..." On the other hand, I would say "This woman...." if I refer to a particular woman. Remember to stress one syllable, not the whole word. The slash (/) shows where to pause. Learn more about pausing in lesson 3. 

    just                               mo                                   ne                   so     ti
I           arrived / at my         ther's house.    I have       ver been /              red.

This                                                        meet.          
          is the woman / I wanted you to             


That's           same                            yes

            the               man / I saw           terday.

Also, stress an adjective in a common phrase. A common phrase, also called a set phrase, includes two words that go together regularly such as: light bulb, blue jeans, mountain lion or back pain. They are so accepted or so inter-dependent, we do not hesitate to put them together.  If you stress "bulb" instead of "light," you will sound strange because the most common definition of "bulb" is the electric bulb.

Note: These phrases also occur in professional terms such as "stress hormones" or "money laundering." Study more common phrases


Continue with the 5 Steps:

Rhythm and Stress: Rule 1
Rhythm and Stress: Rule 3
Rhythm and Stress: Rule 4
Rhythm and Stress: Rule 5

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