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English Pronunciation: Word Stress  

2012-07-21 04:36:56|  分类: Pronunciation |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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English words have certain patterns of stress which you should observe strictly if you want to be understood. The best way to learn English stress is to listen to audio materials and to repeat them after the speaker. The links on the entrance pages of the sections Phonetics, Phrases, and Vocabulary lead to the sites that offer a lot of useful listening materials, including sounds, syllables, words, sentences, and conversations. An overview of typical English patterns of word stress in this material will help you to recognize and understand word stress when you work with listening materials.

Note: Main stressed syllable in the word is indicated by capital letters in this material, for example, LEMon. In words with two stresses, capital letters with a stress mark before them show the syllable with primary stress, and small letters with a stress mark before them show the syllable with secondary stress, for example, 'eco'NOMics.


General guidelines on word stress

Generally, common English nouns, adjectives, and adverbs are more often stressed on the first syllable than on any other syllable. Verbs with prefixes are usually stressed on the second syllable, i.e., on the first syllable of the root after the prefix. English words can't have two unstressed syllables at the beginning of the word; one of these syllables will be stressed. If a word has four or more syllables, there are usually two stresses in it: primary stress (strong stress) and secondary stress (weak stress). Also, secondary stress may be present (in addition to primary stress) in shorter words in the syllable in which the vowel remains long and strong.

Prefixes are often stressed in nouns and less often in verbs. Suffixes at the end of the word are rarely stressed, except for a few noun, adjective, and verb suffixes that are usually stressed: rooMETTE, 'ciga'RETTE / 'CIGa'rette, Chi'NESE, 'SIGni'fy, 'ORga'nize, 'DECo'rate. In longer derivative words, stress may fall on a suffix or prefix according to typical patterns of word stress. Endings are not stressed.


Stress in derivatives

Stress in a derivative may remain the same as in the word from which it was derived, or it may change in a certain way. When nouns and verbs are formed from each other, the following patterns often occur.

(In etymology, a derivative is a word that is made from a more basic word)

The same stress:

deNY (verb) – deNIal (noun)

ofFEND (verb) – ofFENCE (noun)

reVIEW (noun) – reVIEW (verb)

PREview (noun) – PREview (verb)

HOSpital (noun) – HOSpitalize (verb)


Shift of stress:

preSENT (verb) – PRESent (noun)

reFER (verb) – REFerence (noun)

exTRACT (verb) – EXtract (noun)

inCREASE (verb) – INcrease (noun)

OBject (noun) – obJECT (verb)

Other parts of speech derived from nouns and verbs have the following typical patterns of stress.

Adjectives are usually stressed on the first syllable or repeat the stress of the nouns from which they were derived: fate (noun) – FATal (adj.); COLor (noun) – COLorful (adj.). But stress may change in longer derivative adjectives: METal (noun) – meTALlic (adj.); ATHlete (noun) – athLETic (adj.); geOLogy (noun) – 'geo'LOGical (adj.); ARgument (noun) – 'argu'MENtative (adj.).

Adverbs are usually stressed on the first syllable or repeat the stress of the adjectives from which they were derived: ANgry – ANgrily; WONderful – WONderfully; FOOLish – FOOLishly; athLETic – athLETically.

Gerunds and participles repeat the stress of the verbs from which they were formed: forGET – forGETting – forGOTten; CANcel – CANceling – CANceled; 'ORga'nize – 'ORga'nizing – ORganized.


Typical patterns of stress

Let's look at typical examples of stress in English words. Main factors that influence stress are the number of syllables in the word, and whether the word is a noun, an adjective, or a verb.


ONE-SYLLABLE WORDS

One-syllable nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs are stressed on the vowel sound in the word.

book, cat, rain, boat, crow, chair

read, burn, touch, choose, laugh, hear

new, bright, large, short, clear, loud

late, fast, soon, now


TWO-SYLLABLE WORDS

Two-syllable nouns

Two-syllable nouns are usually stressed on the first syllable.

TEACHer, STUDent, CARpet, LESson

REgion, ILLness, STATEment, CITy

CONvict, INcrease, INstinct, OBject

PERmit, PRESent, PROject, SYMbol

Nouns may be stressed on the last syllable if there is a long vowel or a diphthong in it. Words of foreign origin (especially words of French origin) may be stressed on the last syllable.

trainEE, caREER, deLAY, conCERN

poLICE, hoTEL, beRET, rooMETTE


Two-syllable adjectives

Two-syllable adjectives are usually stressed on the first syllable.

FUNny, LOCal, USEful

FOOLish, NATive, CAREless

Some adjectives are stressed on the last syllable if there is a long vowel or a diphthong in it.

abSURD, comPLETE, exTREME, moROSE

If there is a prefix in an adjective, stress often falls on the first syllable of the root after the prefix.

inSANE, imMUNE, enGAged

unWELL, unKNOWN


Two-syllable verbs

Two-syllable verbs are usually stressed on the second syllable, especially if the first syllable is a prefix.

adMIT, apPLY, beGIN, beLIEVE

comBINE, conFIRM, deNY, deSERVE

disLIKE, misPLACE, exPLAIN

forBID, forGET, igNORE, inVITE

oBEY, ocCUR, perMIT, prePARE

proPOSE, purSUE, reCEIVE, rePLY

supPLY, surPRISE, unDO, unLOCK

But there are many verbs that are stressed on the first syllable.

HAPpen, CANcel, PRACtice

ANswer, OFfer, MENtion

FOLlow, BORrow, PUNish


THREE-SYLLABLE WORDS

Three-syllable nouns

Three-syllable nouns are usually stressed on the first syllable.

POLitics, GOVernment, GENeral

INterest, GRADuate, CONfidence

But many nouns, especially those derived from verbs with prefixes, have stress on the second syllable.

apPROVal, conFUSion, conSUMer

corRECTness, eLECtion, diRECtor

Some nouns have primary stress on the last syllable if there is a long vowel or a diphthong in it.

'engi'NEER, 'refu'GEE


Three-syllable adjectives

Three-syllable adjectives are usually stressed on the first syllable.

GENeral, DELicate, EXcellent

WONderful, FAVorite, CURious

Some adjectives have one more stress on the last syllable if there is a long vowel or a diphthong in it.

'OBso'lete / 'obso'LETE

'Vietna'MESE, 'Portu'GUESE

Some adjectives do not repeat the stress of the noun from which they were derived and are stressed on the second syllable.

geNERic, symBOLic, inSTINCtive


Three-syllable verbs

Three-syllable verbs often have primary stress on the first syllable (even if it is a prefix) and secondary stress on the last syllable (which is often a verb suffix).

'ORga'nize, 'MODer'nize

'SIGni'fy, 'SPECi'fy

'COMpen'sate, 'DECo'rate

'COMpli'ment, 'CONsti'tute

But many verbs, especially those with prefixes, have stress on the second syllable.

conTINue, conSIDer, reMEMber

If the prefix consists of two syllables, its first syllable usually gets secondary stress.

'under'STAND, 'decom'POSE

'contra'DICT, 'corre'SPOND


FOUR OR MORE SYLLABLES

Long nouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs usually have two stresses: primary stress and secondary stress. But there are some long words with only one stress. There are four patterns of stress in long words.

Only one stress: on the first syllable

Nouns:

ACcuracy, DELicacy

Adjectives:

INteresting


Only one stress: on the second syllable

Nouns:

inTOLerance, geOMetry, aMERica

simPLICity, moBILity, teLEpathy

acCOMpaniment

Adjectives:

sigNIFicant, mysTErious, traDItional

inTOLerable, unREAsonable, noTOrious

Verbs:

acCOMpany


Two stresses: on the first and third syllable

This is a very common stress pattern in long words in English.

Nouns:

'eco'NOMics, 'infor'MAtion

'consti'TUtion, 'repe'TItion

'coloni'ZAtion, 'multipli'CAtion

Adjectives:

'aca'DEMic, 'geo'METrical

'inter'NAtional, 'cosmo'POLitan

'capita'LIStic, 'conver'SAtional

'PAtro'nizing


Two stresses: on the second and fourth syllable

Nouns:

con'side'RAtion

in'vesti'GAtion

con'tinu'Ation

Adjectives:

ex'peri'MENtal

in'compre'HENsible

Verbs:

i'DENti'fy, in'TENsi'fy

in'TOXi'cate, ac'CUmu'late

com'MERcia'lize, a'POLo'gize.


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