Speaking Clearly- Word stress

Hello, I’m Karen Dacy from Academic Skills. This speaking clearly video is for
students who want to improve their pronunciation in English and today we’re looking at stress pattens in words. Academic English, which is the
language of your studies has lots of long words. Words like ‘hydroxide’, ‘ancillary’, ‘sequestration’ ‘statistical’ You’ll notice that one part of each word is
louder and longer than the other parts. This is the word stress. On this slide I’ve made the letters bigger to show you where the stress is. Now putting the stress in the right
place in a word is very important for English speakers. For example, if you say statistickle instead of statistical English speakers may not understand you But which part of the word do you stress?
How do you know? Are there any rules? Well the first thing you need to know is that
words contain syllables. The word, ‘word’, has one syllable,
‘Contained’ has two syllables, and ‘Syllables’ has three syllables. In almost every word in English with two
or more syllables one syllable will be strong, or stressed and the other will be weak or unstressed If you don’t know where the stress is in a particular word you can find out by
using a good dictionary, a paper copy or online. Some online dictionaries have sound files
so you can listen to the word and where the stress is placed. Good dictionaries use the International Phonetic Alphabet. Here’s the word ‘international’, written in International Phonetic Alphabet. You probably recognise some letters but not others. Don’t worry, what we’re looking for here
is how they mark the stressed syllable. Here is the stressed syllable and it’s marked with a little bar above the line at the start of the syllable. Notice here, and here, and here, all the week, or unstressed syllables look the same. This little upside down ‘e’ has the sound /ə/. So, now we know which syllable is stressed, how do we practice saying the word? The
easiest way to get the stress right is to start from the stressed syllable and work
backwards one syllable at a time. That’s right, backwards. Let’s try it with the word, ‘experimental’. Cover started the word down to the
stress bar with your finger, or a piece of paper. Say that part of the word. ‘Mental’, then move your finger to add the next syllable and the next. Listen. ‘Mental’… ‘remental’…
‘sperimental’… ‘experimental’ Now try these examples, ‘liminite’… ‘eliminate’ ‘standing’… ‘withstanding’… ‘notwithstanding’ There are more examples on our word stress handout. Pause the video now and go to exercise 1. Welcome back. Let’s look at two important rules that
determine would stress. Firstly, word endings often determine stress. Secondly, for some words, if it’s a noun, stress the first syllable. If it’s a verb, stress the second. What do you notice about these groups of words? Listen. ‘Biology’… ‘Biological’ ‘Photograph’… ‘Photographer’… Photographic’ The stress changes according to the end of the word. Now do you have to remember a different stress pattern each time the word ending changes? Well, yes. But it’s easier than you think. It’s actually good news because once you know biology, you also know how to say ‘Analogy’… ‘Psychology’… ‘Geology’ Can you think of some more words that end with ‘logy’? The same rule applies to words that end in ‘ical’. ‘Economical’… ‘Critical’ ‘Alphabetical’ and words that end in ‘tic’. ‘Domestic’… ‘Fantastic’… ‘Artistic’. As you can see, the stressed syllable often comes just
before the word ending. words that end in ‘A-T-E’ or ‘ate’, are an exception. Listen. ‘Eliminate’… ‘Concentrate’… ‘Anticipate’.
For this ending, the stressed syllable is two syllables
before the ending. Can you think of any other word
endings that come up in your studies? Endings like, ‘ify’, as in, ‘Modify’… ‘Clarify’ ‘ary’, as in ‘Stationary’… ‘Dictionary.’ ‘able’, as in ‘Sustainable’… ‘Renewable’ ‘tion’, as in ‘Nation’… ‘Derivation’ If you want to do some more practice,
pause the video now, and go to a word stress exercises
handout, exercise two. Welcome back. Here are some more rules.
Sometimes the noun and verb for a word may look the same when you write them but the stress changes when you say them. Listen. Noun. She broke the Olympic record. Verb. Did you record the lecture? There are some practice listening
activities for this rule on the next video So that concludes our introduction to word stress. In summary, correct placement of word stress is vital in English if listeners are to understand you. Almost all words with two or more syllables stress one syllable and weaken the rest. In words have three or more syllables,
the word ending suffix often but not always decides where the stress will be Where a noun and a verb are written the same way, the first syllable will be stressed for
the noun and the second syllable will be stressed for the verb. The end. There’s more practice on the next video.

14 thoughts on “Speaking Clearly- Word stress

  1. Hi, I have been observing that there is no word with two or more syllables that ends an aa sound, so if the spelling ends with a then it takes the schwa sound. e.g. India, China, Pizza, Visa, Charisma, Banana. The mentioned words are ending with a, however all these words takes a schwa sound instead. Please let me know if my observation is correct.

  2. Hi 
    I am not sure about single stress, primary, and secondary stress word. 
    Could your please explain me about the different between them? The word 'Experimental' /ɪkˌspɛrɪˈmɛnt(ə)l/ contains both primary and secondary stress, what is the main stress in that word? and how do we pronounce it? 
    I am looking forward to hearing from you. 
    Best wishes, 
    Phnom Penh, Cambodia

  3. I can’t hear the syllabic differences in volume. I hear that certain syllables are emphasized, I just don’t know why.

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