How SENTENCE STRESS changes meaning in English
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Hello. My name is Emma and in today’s video I am going
to teach you how to become a better listener, and I’m going to do that by teaching you
about something called “Sentence Stress”. Okay? So I want you to think about the times you’ve
listened to English, maybe in a movie, maybe you saw a movie, or maybe a TV show – was there
ever a time where you didn’t understand something? Maybe everybody laughed, maybe somebody suddenly
got angry and you felt like you missed some of the meaning to why
something happened. It might be because you’re not
listening enough to sentence stress. So, what is sentence stress? Well, let me show you. When we talk about stress in language, we’re
talking about making something louder and longer. Okay? So, for example, if I say the number “thirteen”
versus “thirteen”, even though they sound similar, they’re different because I’ve put
a different stress or a different emphasis on each part of the word. So this is in part a pronunciation lesson, but also
really about listening and how to listen better. So I have here a sentence:
“I love studying English.” Now, it seems like a pretty straightforward
sentence, but I can actually change the meaning of this sentence using
sentence stress. Okay? So, by saying different parts of the sentence louder
and longer I can actually change the meaning. So I’m going to give
you an example. “I love studying English.” What part did I say
louder and longer? If you said: “I”, you’re correct, so I’m going
to put a mark here to show sentence stress. “I love studying English.” If you heard somebody say this it means that I
love studying English, but my friend doesn’t. Or I love studying English, but
other people hate studying English. So I’m really emphasizing that I am, you
know, maybe one of the only people. Okay? So, I love studying English. Now, this is a bit of a different meaning than if we move
the stress-so I’ll just erase that-to the word “love”. Okay? So I want you to listen to how I say
this: “I love studying English.” So in this case “love” is the part
I’m saying louder and longer. Okay? And now it has a
different meaning. Even though it’s the same sentence, just by
saying a different part louder and longer I’ve changed the meaning. So: “I love studying English.” What does that mean? If I’m focused on the word “love” it means I
really want to emphasize that I don’t just like English, I love English. English is my passion. I love it. I really, really,
really like it a lot. Okay? Now, if we take the stress here and we move
it to “studying”: “I love studying English”, okay? So now you hear “studying” is louder and longer,
again, now we have a different meaning from when I said: “I love
studying English”, “I love studying English”,
“I love studying English”, each of these means
a different thing. “I love studying English” means
I only love studying English. I’m emphasizing maybe I don’t like using English, maybe
I don’t like, you know, English in conversation. Maybe I only like reading my book about
English, but I don’t actually like using it. Okay? Now, if we change the stress to “English” and now
“English” is going to be louder and longer… Okay? So, for example: “I love studying English”,
“English” is louder and longer, now this has a new meaning, a fourth meaning. “I love studying English”
means only English. Maybe I hate all
other languages. I don’t like studying French, I don’t like
studying Portuguese, I don’t like studying Arabic. I only like studying English. Okay? So, as you can see, the way we pronounce
these sentences adds meaning to them. It’s not just the words that have meaning, it’s
also the way we use our voice, our intonation. Okay, so we’re going to do
some practice listening. I’m going to say a sentence and you’re going to first
listen to: What part of the sentence has the stress? What part of the stress
is louder and longer? Okay? So let’s do that with the
next sentence first. Okay? “I like your painting.
I like your painting.” What part was the loud part? What part was the long part? “I like your painting.” If you said: “your”,
you are correct. This part has the stress. Now, I have three different meanings
that this sentence could mean. It could mean it’s
an okay painting. Okay? It could mean my friends
don’t like the painting, or it could also mean I
only like your painting, but not the other
people’s paintings. Okay? So I want you to listen one more time and
tell me which of these best represent this sentence with the stress. “I like your painting.” Okay? So does that mean it’s
an okay painting? No. Does that mean my
friends don’t like it? Not really. Does it mean I only like your
painting, but not other paintings? Yes. So, in this case this is the
meaning of the sentence. I like your painting, but I
don’t like his painting. His painting’s awful. Your painting is
the good painting. Okay? So let’s try again. I’m going to now take away the stress and I’m
going to say the sentence again but with the stress somewhere else. Okay? So listen to where I
put the stress carefully. “I like your painting. I like your painting.” So what part is
louder and longer? If you said: “I”,
you are correct. Okay? So what do you think this means? Do you think it means: “I like your
painting” means it’s an okay painting? Or: “I like your painting” means my friends
don’t like your painting, but I do? Okay? So I’m emphasizing “I”. Which one do you think it means? If you said B, you’re correct. If I’m focusing on “I”, it means that other people
don’t like it, but I do, and I’m highlighting the fact other people don’t. Okay? So, if we put the stress
here it means this. Okay. So finally we’re going to do the third possible
meaning, and I’ll take away the stress here. “I like your painting. I like your painting.” So what part of the
sentence is stressed? If you said: “like”
you’re correct. Okay? So this means that I’m not
really saying I love your painting. I’m really stressing I like it. It means it’s an okay painting,
but I don’t love it. Okay? I don’t hate
it, I don’t love it. It’s an okay painting. I like your painting,
but I don’t love it. Okay? So here’s an example of where stress
changes the meaning of the sentence. Just putting stress on different words has
a huge impact on the sentence, and this is something a lot of language learners
miss when they’re listening. So let’s do another couple more practices of
this just so you can really see how important the pronunciation and
stress is to meaning. Okay, so before we begin the next example, I
want to tell you that I know this is difficult. Okay? So if you’re just, like: “I don’t know what’s
going on. I can’t understand the differences”, it’s okay because
this does take time. Okay? We’re practicing, and the more you practice
the easier it will be, but just try your best and just remember that
stress changes the meaning. Okay? And just, you know, you can think
logically about it, but try your best. It is difficult for people
who are learning a language. Okay, so let’s look
at the next example. “She had a lot of money.” Okay? “She had a lot of money.” I’m going to first say the sentence again,
but this time I’m going to put some emphasis or some stress on
part of the sentence. I want you to decide: Which word
do I say louder and longer? Okay? Which word do I put
the stress on? Okay? “She had a lot of money. She had a lot of money.” So what word is
louder and longer? If you said: “money”,
you are correct. This is the word where
we have the stress. Okay? I’m saying “money” louder. So if I stress “money”: “She had a
lot of money”, what does this mean? Do you think it means she
doesn’t have much money now? Is that what we’re focused on? Do you think it means she was very rich,
and that’s what we’re focused on? Or do you think it means although she had
money, she didn’t have other important things? Maybe she didn’t have love. She has lots of money,
but not other things. Which is the best meaning
based on the intonation? I’ll say it one more time:
“She had a lot of money.” Okay? So the meaning that is there based on the
intonation in the stress is going to be this one, C. So, although she had money, she
didn’t have a lot of other important things. Okay? So maybe she has money,
but she doesn’t have love. Maybe she doesn’t have friends. Maybe she doesn’t have family. All she has is money. Okay? And we know this because the
stress is on the word “money”. Okay, so let’s try this again. I’m going to erase this. Okay, perfect. So, again, listen
for the stress. What part do I say
louder and longer? Okay? “She had a lot of money. She had a lot of money.” Okay, this time I’m not
going to use my hands. “She had a lot of money.” Okay, so which word do
you think I stressed? If you said: “a lot”,
you are correct. Okay? This is the important word in this sentence,
this is the part that’s louder and longer and that I’m stressing. So what do you think it means
if I stress this word? Does it mean she doesn’t have much money
now, or does it mean she was very rich? And we’re really focused on… We’re answering the
question of: How rich? Which one do you think it is? Well, because we’re focused on the word “a
lot”, we’re really trying to highlight the fact that she was very rich. It’s almost like we’re answering
the question: -“How rich?” -“Very rich.” Okay? She had a lot of money. Not a little, not some. She had a lot. Okay, so now let’s try
for the third one. Okay? So, the next one is she
doesn’t have much money now. If I want to say this, where
do you think I should stress? She doesn’t have much money now. Where I would stress if I want this
meaning, I would stress the word “had”. Okay? So, I want you to repeat after me following
this stress: “She had a lot of money. She had a lot of money.” So, if I focus on
the word “had”… And this is probably the most important part
of this lesson because this is a very common thing we stress. If we stress the word “had” in a sentence
it means that it’s no longer true. Okay? So, in the past she had a lot of
money, but now she doesn’t have much. She has no money. Okay? So, stressing “had” means that
what was true is not true anymore. Okay? I’ll give you another example. “I had a great teacher. I had a great teacher.” This means my old teacher was great,
but my new teacher is terrible. Okay? So, again, even though we’re not saying this,
just in the way we’re saying our words, there’s a lot of extra meaning. So let’s look at one more
example to practice this. Okay, so we’re on our very last sentence of
the day, and again, I want you to see all the different ways we can make meaning in this
sentence based on the stress we use on it. Okay? So I have this sentence:
“I know you made a mistake.” Now, I have the three different things it
can possibly mean-okay?-based on stress. So I’m going to put stress on a part of the
sentence, and I want you first to decide: What part of the sentence am
I saying louder and longer? Okay, so the sentence is:
“I know you made a mistake. I know you made a mistake.” So what part of the sentence
is louder and longer? If you said the word
“I”, you’re correct. This is the part
that I’m stressing. So what does this mean if I say:
“I know you made a mistake”? Does it mean other people
don’t know, but I know? Does it mean I’m 100%
sure you made a mistake? Or does it mean it was you who
made the mistake, not your friend? Your friend didn’t make the
mistake, you made the mistake. So out of these three, the most likely thing:
“I made a mistake” means is going to be this one: Other people don’t
know, but I know. Okay? So if I say: I know you made a mistake”
it means your friends don’t know, your teacher doesn’t know, but I know. All right? So this is different
than if we say this: “I know you made a mistake. I know you made a mistake.” So what part is the loudest? What part is the longest? If you said: “know”,
you’re correct. “I know you made a mistake.” So what does this mean? Does it mean…? So we’ve already used this one. Does it mean I’m 100%
sure you made a mistake? Or does it mean it was
you; not your friend, you? Which one? Well, considering we’re really focused on
the word “know”, and “know” usually has to do with, like, either we
know or we don’t know, it’s going to be B. I’m stressing
the fact that I am sure, I am certain it was you
who made the mistake. “I know you made a mistake” means I’m 100%
sure you’re the one who made the mistake. Okay? So, I’m going to… So the next one is going to mean this, it’s
going to mean it was you and not your friend who made the mistake, that’s
the thing we’re focused on. So I want you to listen very
carefully to: Where is the stress? “I know you made the mistake. I know you made the mistake.” Okay, so if you said the stress is on “you”, you’re correct. And so if I say: “I know
you made the mistake” it means I really want
to emphasize that it’s not your friends, it’s not your
family, you’re the one. Okay? So, the thing with this is it’s very important
to first identify: Where is the stress? What part is the person
really emphasizing? What part is the person
saying with emotion? So that’s the first step, and once
you do this you can think about: “Okay, why are they saying
this part louder and longer? What’s the purpose? What does it mean? Does it mean they’re
focused on, you know… On it being that they see you do something
versus someone else, is it based on maybe they’re trying to show that they like something,
or love something, or hate something?” So it’s always good to ask yourself: Where
is there stress and why is there stress? Okay? Again, this takes a
lot of practice. If you’re really interested in doing more practice
for this, there’s a couple of things you can do. First of all, there’s a
test called the TOEFL. This is very, very important
on the TOEFL test. Even if you’re not taking the TOEFL test, I
highly recommend doing some of the listenings because they have a lot of practice where
you can actually listen for intonation and stress, and connect
it to meaning. Okay? So that’s a
great resource. Also you can check out our website at www.engvid.com,
and there you can also find some more practice along with our quiz. Okay? I hope you’ve
enjoyed this video. Again, I know it’s a little bit difficult,
but with practice and time I’m sure you will be able to get this. I also would like to invite you to
subscribe to my YouTube channel. There you can find many more resources on
vocabulary, listening, pronunciation, and all sorts of other great things. So until next time, thanks
for watching and take care.

100 thoughts on “How SENTENCE STRESS changes meaning in English

  1. Hi Emma,I follow a lot of classes on you tube and i never will forget about you. Clear and nice accent.!!

  2. Madam I want to know that how many words are stress in a sentence? if I give the answer of this question, 'short note on word stress and sentence stress ' shall i get full number that you teach me in this video? I clear understand what is stress in sentence but I cant understand how do i give answer, or have to give all the stress words meaning? please give me answer ….i am quite nurvous..

  3. so gorgeous this movie if you don't look into for several time you couldn't know what that mean,thank you so much.

  4. Nice teaching. I appreciate! Could you please clarify that which of the following sentence is right:
    1. I only like your painting…
    2. Only I like your painting…

    (My e-mail ID: [email protected])

  5. Very powerful listen, commonly learners miss understand natives regarding to the low level noticing to the pronunciation and its stress.
    Thanks Emma.

  6. <Learning English with the Bible>

    How do you Pronounce each syllable?
    New Living Translation, Genesis CH10V19V21
    Gerar? Gaza ?
    Admah?Zeboiim?
    Lasha?Eber?
    <Old Testament>
    Isaiah ?Jeremiah? Lamentations?
    Ezekiel ? Daniel?

  7. Hi,you are an excellent teacher I like watching your videos a lot your English is simple and understood .However, I kindly ask /recommend/advise you to use /use a black marker when you write on the white board to be clear/seen enough many thanks I wish all the best.

  8. Can you please tell me the meaning of the below sentences , specially 2nd sentence?

    "He is the supreme God of gods who had created this whole world. He is addressed as load krishna".

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