How does stress change the meaning of a sentence?

Hi, I’m Adam. Welcome back to Today, the lesson is going to be a little bit different than what you used to. It`s not so much about grammar or vocabulary, it’s about English meaning. Now I understand that all of you are studying very hard. You’re reading, you’re looking at the dictionary, you’re writing. You’re speaking to as many people in English as you can. But sometimes, you get a little bit confused. You’re watching a movie from Hollywood. You’re watching some English TV show. And you know that, you understand the words, you understand the sentence, and the grammar is no problem. Yet, you’re not sure exactly why, but you’re missing something. Now, I’ll tell you what you’re missing: “intonation”. You need to understand, a lot of what is spoken in English, and I’m sure, in your language as well, not only English. A lot of what is meant in English, is meant in, how the words are spoken, not the words themselves. So we’re going to look at “intonation” and “accent”, and “stress” in English and how it can change meaning. Now look at this sentence: “I didn’t say he stole the money”. Very simple sentence. Seven words, no problem, right? But, I can say this sentence seven different ways and have seven different meanings to this one sentence. Let’s look at it. If I put the stress, I’m gonna, this means stress, If I put the stress on the first word “I”, it changes the meaning of the sentence. “I didn’t say he stole the money”. I didn’t say it. Means, I’m suggesting, somebody else said it, not me. okay, no problem, “I didn’t say he stole the money”. You made a mistake, you think I said it, but, I didn’t say it. Right? I’m stressing this word. So, that’s where the focus is, that’s where the meaning is. good “I didn’t say he stole the money”. What am I implying now? Maybe, I hinted it. I said, I pointed, right? And you thought: “oh, you said he stole the money”. I didn’t say it. I just hinted it okay “I didn’t say he stole the money”. What does that mean? Somebody else stole the money. Don’t confuse it with this person. “I didn’t say he stole the money”. Maybe, he borrowed it and forgot to bring it back. Or maybe, he misplaced it. “I didn’t say he stole it”, right? “I didn’t say he stole the money” I’m not, we’re not talking about this money. We’re talking about other money. He stole that money, not this money. “I didn’t say he stole the money”, right? I’m stressing money, means, he stole something else. He stole they watch. Somebody else stole the money. Wasn’t me, but somebody else stole the money. So, you see: one sentence, I stress each word, I changed the meaning completely. Now, for another very good example. I know you all love this word – “really”. it’s a, It’s a really interesting word. Of course, there’s the everyday meaning, which means very. But, native English speakers use this word in many, many situations to give many different meanings, okay? Now, bear with me. I’m not a very good actor, but I’ll do my best. Your friend comes to you and says:
– “Guess what, I won the lottery, I won 50 million dollars”. I’m in shock: – “Really?”
Means shock. I don’t know what you’re talking about: “really?” Another situation Your friend has two tickets to your favorite bands concert and he says:
– “I have an extra ticket, do you want to go?
– Really? Means you’re very excited, you’re very happy. This “really” has a very different meaning. You call your boss, you say:
– Oh, I’m really sick. I can’t come to work today. And your boss he doesn’t trust you, says:
– Really? That “really” means, I think you’re lying. I don’t believe you. Another situation Another situation. You know what flirting is. A girl comes to you, says:
– “I like your shirt”.
– Really? Like that, right, you’re flirting. You’re trying to play with her. Trying to get a date out of her, maybe. All from one word you see. All these different meanings from one word. Let’s thinking of another me, another situation Your friend says:
– “Guess what, the boss is not coming to work today.”
– Really… Means, you’re thinking, you’re going to do something bad, something evil. You’re planning. So, these are just a few examples, there are others. I can use this word “really” in many different situations, each time a little bit different meaning. But all of this goes to show, don’t worry, if you hear something, if you watch a movie or even a song. And you’re not exactly sure you got the meaning. That’s because, it’s not about the words, it’s about the way they’re said. The only way to fix this, to improve. Is keep listening, keep listening, watch movies, watch TV-shows. Speak to as many native speakers as you can. Eventually, you’ll start picking these up. If you like this lesson, please, come to and if you liked it on YouTube, please, subscribe to my channel. I’ll be happy to give you other lessons. I’m hoping that, I can help you a lot with your English and together, we’ll both improve and learn new things. Thank you very much for watching. I’ll see you soon

100 thoughts on “How does stress change the meaning of a sentence?

  1. thank you very much. Istart follow you, my best lesson. i start for the beggining of your videos. muchas gracias Adam, asombroso como te puedo entender, todo!!!!! jajajja. empiezo del video mas antiguo tuyo que he encontrado. PLEASE, can you tell me your video olddest? one hug, kiss and thankss

  2. Orale gracias amigo, you are my favorite teacher now. I really would like to speak like all of you American People do. You have a new subscriber of course, thank you

  3. My english teacher showed me your channel and it was very interesting for me. After that I have thought " Hey, I can watch his channel agan" and now I'm here. Thanks you for your lesson

  4. 어떤 단어에 중점에 두느냐에 따라 해석이 달라진다는 말이군요.
    감사합니다. Thank you for i learned many useful things.

  5. Hi Adam, great video…i didn´t know a simple sentece could mean different things. I actually knew it, beause i do that when i speak Portuguese, but as a non native english speaker that never came to my mind.I think i saw one of your videos two years ago and now i`m following you. I`m sure my english is going to improve..I´m READY for this journay. Thank you

  6. Good video. I am from Argentina and I am studying to be an English teacher, and this concept is very important in the career, but it is not mentioned as "intonation", but "prominence". Even some famous authors call it "prominence", while "intonation" is closely related to "prominence", but it is different. This fact caused me some confusion, however it is clear to me now, do you know something about the term prominence?

  7. you are the best English teacher for non-native speakers i have ever seen!
    thank you so much for your work

  8. i tried to understand STESS, many teacher explained it but couldnt give a sense on it, but eventually i found what i am looking for, thanks teacher, love and respect from kurdistan.

  9. i am learning with your videos some time ago and i am really enjoying, thank you.
    You are awesome and, sorry if i write something wrong hahaha

  10. I want to give lecture on "do as direct" and, I want all the students were understand, can you please post a lecture on it, as soon as possible.

  11. your are one of big teachers in usa
    and i will follow you for ever but the one thing that i don' t know what to do is to practice coz i live in french speaking country

  12. I've decided to watch all of your videos from the oldest one. You are the best English teacher I've ever had. I feel so lucky I found you and truly appreciate you.

  13. Adam, I have watched all your videos. They are really good. You are the best teacher ever. Thank you. Keep making them. They are important for us.
    God bless you

  14. Hi, Adam! Very nice and interesting lesson! It's really nice to see the importance and the effects of intonation in a situation of communication! Thanks! This lesson helped me a lot to pay attention in this challenging aspect of learn a language! See ya!

  15. Me encanto tu canal estoy tratando de aprender ingles y no he podido por mas que estudio olvido y cuando me hablan en ingles me aterro.

  16. I’m the beginner in English. Adam has most comrehensible speech I found in YouTube. Finally I found my coach!👍

  17. Hello Adam… Short, but excelent class. Next time, I will pay atention where I put the accent or stress on words. In my country, we are expert playing with intonations…

  18. Teacher Adam Really you are good teacher, i could say "best teacher", please consult me, i have much books in my home as a library, mostly that books are different English books, i am a student, i studied different Universities, though i didn't understand Native speakers and Books when i read.
    please i am waiting for your response quickly if could be suit.
    you may transmit your response as a Whats-App and its +252615843890 (Mogadishu-Somalia)

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