Speak English clearly and be understood!
Word stress (or syllable stress) is important because syllables in English words are not all equal! This video lesson will show you how to recognise and practice word stress (or syllable stress) correctly.
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Hello! I’m Emma from mmmEnglish and in this lesson, we’re focusing on your pronunciation. Specifically, syllable stress which is very important.
It’s the difference between present (noun) and present (verb)! Hear the difference?
These two words look exactly the same, but they are pronounced differently.
And that's all because of syllable stress!
First thing! What’s a syllable?
A syllable is a part of an English word and it’s created by a vowel sound.
Take the example from before, present. It has two vowel sounds in it /e/ and /ə/. Present. Thus, there is two syllables.
The word book has only one syllable.
The word date has only one syllable. It’s tricky, because there are two vowel letters. But if you listen carefully you’ll hear there is only one vowel sound, /eɪ/ date. The ‘e’ is silent.
And in the word my there is only one syllable. Even though there is only consonants in this word, there is still a vowel sound. The ‘y’ makes the vowel sound, /aɪ/ my.
How many syllables does the word apple have? Two.
How many syllables does the word banana have? Three.
What about beautiful? Three.
And economical? Five.
Notice that I’m saying ba-NA-na, not ba-na-na.
Not all syllables are equal!
If there is only one syllable in the word, then of course, it will be the stressed syllable.
If there is more than one syllable in the word, then there will be one syllable that is stronger, clearer and bolder than the others. The pronunciation of that syllable is clearer.
Here are a few more examples:
Can you hear how the first syllable is clearer and stronger than the second? /pɜː/ /pɜː/
The second syllable is /fɪkt/ /fɪkt/
So the first syllable is definitely stronger.
It’s been a perfect day.
See if you can guess which syllable in each of these words is the strongest:
The first syllable is the strongest syllable.
What a beautiful sunset.
We use this stress to add emphasis to our sentences as well. Especially with adjectives.
It’s a beautiful sunset. That’s a beautiful dress.
The second syllable is the stressed syllable.
Which syllable is stressed?
I can’t wear that! I’ll look ridiculous!
En-thu-si–A-stic /ɪnˌθjuːziˈæstɪk/ It’s the fourth syllable.
We were really enthusiastic about the idea, until we found out how much it will cost!
So, how do you know which syllable to stress?
Unfortunately, there is no simple rule that you can follow.
But, there is an easy way that you can found out this information!
When you’re looking up a new word in a dictionary, you’ll see the phonetic script next to that word.
It will tell you what syllable to stress and it will be marked like this.
You can see it marked like this:
Of course you can also listen to the pronunciation if you are using your online dictionary.
Some longer words will also have a secondary stress. But the strongest stress, the main stress is this symbol.
So, what do you need to remember? There is always one main syllable in word that is stressed. It’s stronger than the others. Pronouncing it incorrectly can be confusing….
Present (noun) / present (verb)
Object (noun) / object (verb)
Contract (noun) / contract (verb)
Learning to push down on the strongest syllable will help you to add emphasis to your speech and your pronunciation. It will help you to sound more sincere, more interesting and natural.
I really like it.
Your home is beautiful.
What a perfect afternoon.
Speaking English clearly and confidently is about more than just pronunciation of sounds. Words stress and syllable stress are just as important.
I hope that you enjoyed that lesson and you don’t have to stop now. There is heaps more videos available on my YouTube channel. Come and say “Hi” on my Facebook page or go visit my website at mmmEnglish.com to find out more about my online courses.
Thanks for watching and I'll see you next time. Bye for now!
mmmEnglish Video Lessons are a series of video lessons created to build confidence in English learners and focus on English in daily life. Download them and watch them anywhere! Subscribe to my YouTube Channel to be the first to get my new videos, and come and say hi on my Facebook page!!
Hi,Emma?How do you do?Hope you're doing well… 🙂
Actually I have a doubt..
What do you mean by “Air quote “?
An “air quote” is a gesture in which two fingers of each hand draw quotation marks in the air, used when uttering a word or phrase you don't think is appropriate or accurate 🙂
Thank you so much Emma… 🙂
Maam, iam looking forward to your free course on stress words. And also i wanted to tell u that iam on my way to improving spoken english. Thanks for ur all videos. Iam addicted on ur videos lesson.:)
I like your lectures, especially your methodology which you follow.
Thanks Mohammed! I'm glad you enjoy them 🙂
Hi,Emma!Could you please explain me the difference between keep and put?
Hi Emma, this is sid. I got lot of knowledge form your videos like accent pronunciations.
I would like to do a request you that please give presentation on some topic like situation topic,conditional sentence. For example suppose you are a powerfull person in the world so what would you like to do for the nation or human being.
Will wait for your answer Emma…
Thanks for your comment and suggestion! I will try to make a video with conditional sentences in the future 🙂
All the best,
Hi Emma,this is vinoth your video helps my career.i want lessons past simple tense.
Hi Vinoth, thanks for your message!
I'm thrilled to hear that my video is helping you! Thanks for the suggestion as well, I will try to make a video on simple past tense in the future 🙂
All the best,
+1 looking for past simple tense. Emma your videos are awesome and helpful.
could you share or make a video that discuss about grammer please..thanks
Hi Tri, try this one about question tags!
I still can't understand this stress part please help me Emma sister
Been learning a lot from your videos. A question though, when we say 'email address', is the stress place on the first syllable of the word ‘address' like were referring to a noun or is it on the 2nd syllable like the verb?
I really desire to learn please Why does Beautiful have three syllables instead of four syllables for instance: Bea u ti ful?
Correct me if I didn't ask the question well
Hi Emma, I’m from India. I’m watching your pronunciation videos in YouTube from last one week. Your videos are very interesting and easy to understand. I’m sure, It will help me to improve my communication skills.
Thank you so much Emma.