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What is word stress?

In some languages, each syllable in each word is pronounced with the exact same stress. English is not one of those languages. English has its own rhythm, complete with its own vocal music. This means that one part of a certain word is said louder and longer than other parts of the same word. It is something that is completely natural for English speakers, but something ESL students can learn from practicing their conversational skills and by learning the rules for using word stress.

A few things to remember:


1. A word can only have one stress. In a very long word you can have a secondary stress but it is always a much smaller stress. 2. Only vowels are stressed, not consonants. The vowels in English are a, e, i, o, and u. The consonants are all the other letters. efore continuing, make sure you read and understand the basics of !ord Stress and Syllables.

Word stress rules


1. Two !yllable nouns and ad"ectives
In most two syllable nouns and ad"ectives, the first syllable takes on the stress. #$am%les: S#$ples %#&ton %'lorful &#Iny

2. Two !yllable verbs and %re%ositions


In most two syllable verbs and prepositions, the stress is on the second syllable. #$am%les: reL#( recEI)E di&E%T a$'*+ aSI,E beT!EE*

&ore about word stress on two syllable words


#bout -./ or so of two0syllable words get their stress on the first syllable. There are of course, exceptions to this rule, but very few nouns and ad"ectives get stress on their second syllable. )erbs and prepositions usually get stress placed on the second syllable, but there are exceptions to this too.

'. Three !yllable words


1or three syllable words, look at the word ending 2the suffix3, using the following as your guide.

(. Words ending in er, or, ly


1or words ending with the suffixes er, or, or ly, the stress is placed on the first syllable. #$am%les: ,I&ect4,I&ector '&der4'&derly $#*age4$#*ager

). Words ending in consonants and in y


If there is a word that ends in a consonant or in a y, then the first syllable gets the stress. #$am%les: &#&ity '5timal +&#,ient %'*tainer

*. Words with various endings


Take a good look at the list of suffixes below 2suffixes are word endings3. 6our stress is going to come on the syllable right before the suffix. This applies to words of all syllable lengths. #$am%les: 7. able: #,,able, #&able, ,8&able 9. ary: 5&I$ary, ,Iary, li &ary :. cial: "u,Icial, nonS'cial ;. cian: muSIcian, phySIcian, cli*I%ian <. ery: #kery, S%E*ery =. gra%hy: calLIgraphy, bibli'graphy, sten'graphy >. ial: celesTIal, iniTIal, "u,I%ial -. ian: co$Edian, ci)ILian, tech*Ician ?. ible: viSIble, ter&Ible, reSIstible 7.. ic: ar%@#ic, plaT'nic, synT@Etic 77. ical: $#gical, L'gical, %&Itical 79. ics: dia Etics, paedi#trics 7:. ion: classifi%#tion, repoSItion, vegeT#tion 7;. ity: im$8nity, +&#vity, )#nity 7<. ium: @Elium, #L8minum, 5&Emium 7=. imum: $Inimum, $#(imum, '5timum 7>. logy: Iology, %#&diology, &#diology 7-. tal: ca5Ital, bi%'#stal, re%Ital

+. Words ending in ee, ese, i,ue, ette


!ords that use the suffix ee, ese, eer, i,ue or ette, have the primary stress actually placed on the suffix. This applies to words of all syllable lengths. #$am%les: 7. ee: agrEE, "amborEE, guarantEE 9. eer: sightsEE&, puppetEE& :. ese: SiamESE, AapanESE, cheESE ;. ette: cassETTE, %orvETTE, towelETTE <. i,ue: unIB8E, physIB8E

-. .refi$es
8sually, prefixes do not take the stress of a word. There are a few exceptions to this rule, however, likeC un, in, %re, e$ and mis, which are all stressed in their prefix. #$am%les: 7. e$: E(ample, E(planation, E(amine

9. in: I*side, I*efficient, I*terest :. mis: $ISspoke, $IStake, $ISspelled ;. %re: 5&Ecede, 5&Earrange, 5&Eliminary

/. !tress on the second from the end syllable


6ou put stress on the second syllable from the end of the word, with words ending in ic, sion and tion. #$am%les: i%'*ic hyperTE*sion nuT&Ition

10. !tress on the third from end syllable


6ou put stress on the third from end syllable with words that end in cy, ty, %hy, gy and al. #$am%les: demo%&#cy T&E#ty ge'+raphy #Llergy *#8tical

11. Word stress for com%ound words A. 1om%ound noun


# compound noun is a noun made out of two nouns in order to form one word. In a compound noun, the first word usually takes on the stress. #$am%les: SE#food I%Eland T''T@paste

2. 1om%ound ad"ectives
# compound ad"ective is an ad"ective composed of at least two words. 'ften, hyphens are used in compound ad"ectives. In compound ad"ectives, the stress is placed within the second word. #$am%les: ten0$Eter rock0S'lid fifteen0$Inute

1. 1om%ound verbs
# compound verb is when a sub"ect has two or more verbs. The stress is on the second or on the last part. #$am%les: $atilda loves bread but deTESTS butter. Sarah baked cookies and #TE them up. ,ogs love to eat bones and love ,&I*king water.

3. 4oun 5 com%ound nouns


*oun D compound *ouns are two word compound nouns. In noun D compound noun, the stress is on the first word.

#$am%les: #I&plane mechanic 5&'"ect manager '#&,room member

12. .hrasal verbs


5hrasal verbs are words made from a verb and preposition. In phrasal verbs, the second word gets the stress 2the preposition3. #$am%les: lack '8T break ,'!* look '8T

1'. .ro%er nouns


5roper nouns are specific names of people, places or things. 1or exampleC Aeniffer, Spain, +oogle. The second word is always the one that takes the stress #$am%les: *orth ,#E'T# $r. S$IT@ #pple I*%'&5'&#TE,

1(. 6efle$ive %ronouns


&eflexive pronouns show that the action affects the person who performs the action. 1or exampleC I hit myself. The second syllable usually takes the stress. #$am%les: mySEL1 themSEL)ES ourSEL)ES

1). 4umbers
If the number is a multiple of ten, the stress is placed on the first syllable. #$am%les: TE* 1I1ty '*Ehundred