What does that even mean? Even the word ‘stress’ can be confusing.
All English words are made up of different syllables. And what is a syllable you might ask? A syllable is the vowel sound in a word and not the number of vowels in a word. We only count these vowel sounds and not the consonant sounds.
The word heart /hɑː(r)t/ has only 1 syllable, even though it has two vowels. We do not count the ‘t’ sound because this is a consonant sound.
So, for example the word happy – hap + py = 2 syllables (because the ‘y’ sounds like an ‘e’). This is the case for every single English word.
The reason we call English a stress timed language is because only ONE SYLLABLE in a word can be emphasised (stressed).
When we look at the word important /ɪmˈpɔːtənt/ and if you say it slowly you will notice that it has 3 syllables, but only one is stressed. In this case it is POR. So, the word is pronounced – imPORtant. The other two syllables are spoken softly.
Word and Stressed Syllable:
Number of Syllables:
Difficult – DIFFicult – /ˈdɪfɪkəlt/
Forget – forGET – /fəˈgɛt/
Brazil – braZIL – /brəˈzɪl/
Because – beCAUSE – /bɪˈkɒz/
Adventure – adVENture – ədˈvɛnʧər ˌ
Company – COMpany – /ˈkʌmpəni/
Information – inforMAtion – /ɪnfəˈmeɪʃən/
By stressing the correct syllable in a word, it will transform the way you speak English and increase your English fluency and intonation.
I’ve added a recording of the pronunciation of these words so you can improve your English fluency.
Posted on June 8th, 2021 by Joanne Hayden