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Learn English Pronunciation: Rhythm and Stress Introduction


Standard American Intonation (intonation means rhythm and stress): Unlike many cultures, where intonation develops through rhythms that are musical in nature, American English stresses information.  Perhaps this is because we are a combination of many cultures.  Begin to adjust your rhythm by thinking about what information you want to deliver.  Information is often in the form of nouns, though verbs are more important when nouns become known (pronouns).  For instance:

       friend                                 co                                    likes

My             would like a cup of       ffee.                     She            it.

Look at sentences in a book or article.  Find the points of information.  Remember they are usually nouns, but may be verbs if the sentence has more pronouns than regular nouns.  Also common nouns, like "man" or "people" may not be important.

Rule 1: In the simplest terms, stress nouns, then verbs, then other words.

Intonation varies based on the speaker and situation. However, if you use a rhythm that does not emphasize important information, this will sound strange (and difficult to understand) to Americans.

Create stress using one of these ways: 1) change your pitch; 2) speak the stressed word for more time (give the sounds more emphasis, especially vowels). For public presentations, most people speak the stressed words a little more loudly.


Continue Learning:

Rhythm and Stress: Rule 2
Rhythm and Stress: Rule 3
Rhythm and Stress: Rule 4
Rhythm and Stress: Rule 5

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