How to Stress a Syllable :: The Shape of Stress

49 thoughts on “How to Stress a Syllable :: The Shape of Stress

  1. But how actually to practice American of stressing words while living in a country where English pronunciation is so nativized? Do we have to study stress pattern of every single word out there in the dictionary? Or is there an easy alternative?

  2. @dhaka4040 No, especially because words will be stressed differently depending on where they fall in a sentence. I would get a clip of a native speaker from online, by watching one of my videos or ANY video, and study and repeat it. Do a YouTube search on "Rachel's English improve spoken English" for a video that might help. (It should be the top non-ad result.)

  3. @rachelsenglish: "words will be stressed differently depending on where they fall in a sentence."

    But how about stressing within a word rather than within a sentence? Take for example, the word "tomato": the 'to' gets the lowest stress (I'd like to consider 'pitch' and 'stress' interchangeable), while 'ma' gets the highest, and the last 'to' gets lower stress than 'ma'. It's something like: toMAto. So, how to learn these pitching/stressing within the words?

  4. @dhaka4040 I see. There are some rules, and a book that I recommend on my website lays them out very well. If you visit my website, currently a link to the book is in the left sidebar.

  5. @ewertonsoad The media is quite reliable for speaking Standard American (midwestern) — movies and TV will integrate more regional accents.

  6. @saintforlife I live in NYC — but I do teach through skype. You can see all the options for studying with me me on my website, on the 1-on-1 page.

  7. @plzhealme You can pronounce it with a stop D going into the TH, but you don't want to leave the D out. Without the stop, the vowel and L of 'told' will be too long.

  8. Thank you for your videos! I have a question. I often hear 2 versions of the pronunciation of words such as "tube" and "Tuesday". One version has the [u] vowel sound as in "cool' while the other has a vowel sound identical to the word "queue" or "cube". Which is the correct one?

  9. This is by far the best video on pronunciation I've ever seen.
    This gliding up and down and sliding from pitch to pitch thing – I think that's where it's at.
    (By the way, practicing sliding from pitch to pitch slowly won't make one sound like like that forgetful blue fish from a famous animated movie? WooOOOooonnt iiIITTTtttt mmMAAaakke oOONNnnne ssSSOOOUUuunndd vvVEEeerry ssttTTRRAAANNNgggeee? And of couse I'm doing it, you can count on it. )

  10. @Mottahead Unfortunately I don't think I've seen that movie! But, I think you'll sound great sliding from pitch to pitch! 🙂

  11. @rachelsenglish
    Well, I didn't want to name names but I was thinking of Dolly (Finding Nemo) telling Nemo's father that she could speak the language of whales.

  12. Dear Rachel!
    Could you please help me answer my concern?
    -In the following example: "Sometimes it's hard to walk in a single woman's shoes", do we make the pitch gliding up and the pitch gliding down on every single words, or only on the content words and three stressed words, or only on the stressed words?
    -And, on the content words (sometimes, walk, woman), i know they are not the stressed words, but do our voices still go up a little bit or be flat?
    I love all your videos! Thanks so much!

  13. Hi John, thanks for your question. This is a bit hard to answer because there are many choices about what to stress in a sentence, and many options will be 'right'. What is the most important is that you have contrast between long and short, and usually that means stressed syllables of content words vs. others. Content words that you choose to stress less can have less shape in the voice, but should still have more length than a function word like 'in' or 'a'.

  14. Dear Rachel,
    I find it hard to pronounce words end with "tly" .Take, for example, the word absolutely ['æbsəlutli]: I either pronounce ['æbsəlutəli], or pronounce ['æbsəluli].
    I try to fix it like this: I can say "little ['lɪtl]" very well, and little + y can make the sound ['lɪtli], which end with [tli], but it sounds like ['lɪtəli].
    Can you help me to fix that? Thank you !

  15. To prevent the extra schwa sound between T and L, hold the air: stop it in your throat very quickly for the T, then go on to the L.

  16. yea that I agree Ms. Rachel just explain how it go worse and worse

    this people don't know the problems

  17. hel lo 2 syllables

    hel lo – 3 syllables

    hel lo – – 4 syllables

    what is the meaning of syllables

  18. I've learnt american accent except for 1 word that I found really difficult: Curtains, how do americans pronounce T here?

  19. ดีมากเลยคะสอนจังหวะของเสียงช่วยได้เยอะเลย

  20. This is interesting to see your description of pronouncing my native American english.  The fact that you are easy on the eyes helps as well.

  21. I used to think I knew everything about Rachel's English, and I've just found out this video. haha

    Great, great video, dear Rachel.

  22. To me, it is a very useful video. If there isn't much of a pitch change in one syllable (as explained in the video) the voice is more monotonous, less friendly. But the interesting part is: when I do not change the pitch and make the syllable very long, it sounds I am singing the syllable.

  23. Hi, I found this video a revelation. Could you please make a video with several sample sentences (and intonation) slowed down like you did in this one? It would be so helpful! Thank you so much.

  24. and i figured it out by watching movies and some showes its really really important to know shape stress really much

  25. Stress is way too hard for me to trandcribe when it should come before the first sound in the syllable because I don't know where the syllable starts, I prefer another way to transcribe stress: primary stress will be transcribed with a circumflex ( ̂) and secondary stress will be transcribed with a caron ( ̌), for example, pronunciation will be transcribed /prənʌ̌nsijêjʃən/. Or do you have another solution for me?

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