- Word and syllable emphasis is more important than many people think. There are a lot of languages that use this emphasis in their everyday words. However, when you are trying to improve your English, this is an issue that can not be overlooked.
Word emphasis or word stress is a way of pronouncing an English word when spoken by a native speaker. The emphasis in a word, if pronounced incorrectly, can actually be mis-interpreted as another word. Quite possibly, someone might not be able to understand you at all. We’re going to take a look at some examples and ways that you might be able to determine how and where to put your emphasis on certain syllables.
First, I want to explain to you what syllable is and how you can determine how many syllables are in a word. A syllable, simply put, is a part of a word consisting of a vowel with consonants surrounding it, usually prior to the vowel. For example, the word SPOKEN. There are two syllables in this word – SPO and KEN.
A syllable is a natural break in a word. Try saying the word “Spoken” just like it is above. Say it a couple times in that manner, then say the word normally. You should be able to feel the natural break that I am speaking of. Here is a list of words separated by syllables. Repeat each one a few times in its broken form, then say the word naturally. After you finish, I’ll continue speaking on the word emphasis or stress. Here is a trick for learning the syllables in other words: Clap for every vowel you say in a word.
GRAMM – AR……………GRAMM – AR……………GRAMM – AR…………….GRAMM – AR Grammar
IM – PROVE……………IM – PROVE…………….IM – PROVE……………….IM – PROVE Improve
ENG – LISH…………….ENG – LISH………………ENG – LISH………………ENG – LISH English
(clap) (clap) (clap)(clap)
DIC – TION – AR – Y………………DIC – TION – AR – Y………………DIC – TION – AR – Y Dictionary
Word Emphasis or Word Stress is determined using the syllables as a basis. Word Emphasis is not something that is taught, but can definitely be learned using a proactive method of learning English. Like I have said many times before, listening is the key to this.
When you listen to spoken English, you will naturally be hearing the emphasis on words. This is learned subconsciously. Which is why you must listen to English as much as you can. I don’t suggest trying to listen to the emphasis intentionally. You probably will not be able to hear it or understand when you do hear it. But the point of my article here is to explain what word emphasis or word stress is and how, when practicing pronunciation, you can make sure you are understood in your spoken English.
When pronouncing an English word, we use what is called Word Emphasis or stress. There was a movie that pointed out how the word emphasis can be confusing.
The person says “ASS es the window” but the word is assESS. The word ass in English is considered a bad word. So you can see that when the word emphasis is used incorrectly, you may alienate your listeners.
When you see the capitalized letters here, that is where you put the emphasis or stress on the syllable. (stay tuned in to World English Club because this will be easier to understand once I have added audio) When you put stress on the syllable, that means that you should emphasize that specific syllable. Emphasis is done in these three ways: Longer in duration, higher in pitch, and louder in volume. Try saying the word emphasis in these three ways.
First of all, do you notice that the capital letters in each set of words are the syllables? That is because the syllables are the basics for the word stress or word emphasis. Next, you should have noticed that each time you said a different word, it gave the word a different feeling.
Learning and listening to English and the syllable stress on words will help you learn how to speak more smoothly and fluently. This is a lesson often overlooked by teachers and learners of the English language. So continue to listen to English and start slowly with this topic. Soon you will improve your spoken English to a point where you will sound like a native speaker of the language.
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