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English Syllables and Stress Patterns

Syllables and stress are 2 of the primary areas of spoken language. Pronouncing words via the tension on the correct syllables will aid you improve your spoken English, make your sentences less complicated to understand and also assist you sound even more favor a indigenous speaker.

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English syllables are stress-timed. English is classed as a ‘stress-based’ language, which implies the definitions of words have the right to be transformed substantially by a adjust in word stress and anxiety and also sentence stress and anxiety. This is why it is essential to learn exactly how to use word stress and anxiety in English and also develop an knowledge of sentence stress and also English anxiety patterns.


The English language is heavily stressed with each word split into syllables. Here are some examples of English words through various numbers of syllables. These sets of words are complied with by a collection of examples utilizing the correct anxiety placement:

Words via one syllable 

The, cold, quite, bed, add, start, hope, clean, trade, green, chair, cat, sign, pea, wish, drive, plant, square, offer, wait, law, off, hear, tturbulent, eat, unstable, trout, shine, watch, for, out, catch, flight, rain, speech, crab, lion, knot, fixed, slope, reach, trade, light, moon, wash, trfinish, balm, walk, sew, joke, people, brooch

Words via two syllables

Party, one-of-a-kind, this day, quiet, oselection, companion, table, demand, power, retrieve, doctor, engine, diet, transcribe, contain, cabbage, hill, humour, defend, spatial, unique, greedy, exadjust, regulate, carpet, although, trophy, firmly insist, tremble, balloon, healthy and balanced, shower, verbal, organization, mortgage, fashion, hover, butcher, magic, broken

Words via three syllables

Fantastic, energy, expensive, wonderful, laughable, badminton, idiot, celery, beautiful, aggression, computer, journalist, horrify, gravity, temptation, dieting, trampoline, industry, financial, distinguimelted, however, tremendous, justify, inflation, production, injustice, energise, glittering, tangible, mentalise, laughable, dialect, crustacean, origin


Words are consisted of of syllables – photo source

Words via four syllables

Understanding, indecisive, conversation, realistic, moistuclimbing, Amerideserve to, psychology, gregarious, self-reliance, affordable, memorandum, controversial, exceptional, gymnasium, entrepreneur, traditional, transdevelopment, remembering, establishment, vegetation, affectionate, acupuncture, invertebrate

Words through five syllables

Organisation, unmanageable, inspirational, misexpertise, conversational, opinionated, organic, subordination, determicountry, sensationalist, refrigerator, haberdashery, hospitality, conservatory, procrasticountry, disobedience, electrifying, consideration, apologetic, specifically, compartmentalise, hypochondria

Words through six syllables

Responsibility, idiosyncratic, discriminatory, invisibility, capitalisation, extraterrestrial, relicapability, autobiography, unimaginable, characteristically, superiority, antibacterial, disciplinarian, environmentalist, materialism, biodiversity, criminalisation, imaginatively, disobediently

Words via seven syllables

Industrialisation, multiculturalism, interdisciplinary, radioactivity, unidentifiable, environmentalism, individuality, vegetarianism, unsatisfactorily, electrocardiogram

English Stress Patterns

When reasoning around syllables and also stress in English, commonly we discover that one syllable of a word is stressed more than the others. Tright here are constantly one or more stressed syllables within a word and also this special anxiety placement helps words and also sentences develop their very own rhythm.

Syllables and stress and anxiety trends in English assist to produce the sounds, pronunciations and rhythms that we hear all roughly us.

Word Stress in English

We come to recognise these English syllables and anxiety fads in conversations in actual life interactions and also on the radio and also television. Using the correct stressed syllables within a word is an essential part of speech and expertise.

Pronouncing words via the right word tension will make your language sound more organic to native speakers. Here are some words from the previous lists with the stressed syllable in bold:

Two syllable words anxiety patterns:

Quiet, party, special, todayorange, partner, table, demandpower, retrieveengine, diet, greedy, exchange, manage, carpet, although, relax, comfort

Three syllable words tension patterns:

Fantastic, energy, expensive, aggresion, wonderful, laughable, badminton, celery, temptation, trampoline, indusattempt, dintinguimelted, financial, however, tremendous, library

Four syllable words stress and anxiety patterns:

Understanding, indecisive, conversation, realistic, moistuincreasing, Amerihave the right to, psychology, independence, entrepreneur, transformation, fascinating, comfortable

Five syllable words stress patterns:

Uncontrollable, inspirational, misunderstanding, conversational, opinionated, biological, alphabetical, subordination, refrigerator, haberdashery, hospitality

Six syllable words stress and anxiety patterns:

Responsibility, idiosyncratic, invisibility, capitalisation, discriminatory or discriminatory, antibacterial, superiority, autobiography, materialism, biodiversity, criminalisation, imaginatively,

Seven syllable words tension patterns:

Industrialisation, multiculturalism, interdisciplinary, radioactivity, unidentifiable, environmentalism, individuality, vegetarianism, unsatisfactorily, electrocardiogram


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Syllables and Stress Patterns in English Speech

Using clear syllables and stress and anxiety fads is a crucial part of speech. The correct word stress in English is vital for expertise a word quickly and also accurately.

Even if you cannot hear a word well and are not acquainted via the context, you have the right to often still work-related out what the word is, simply from listening to which syllable is stressed.

In the same method, if a learner pronounces a word in different ways from the welcomed norm, it can be tough for a aboriginal speaker to understand the word. Words or sentence might be grammatically correct, however if they have actually offered the wrong (or an unexpected) tension pattern or the wrong stressed syllables, it might make it unintelligible to a indigenous.

Learning a language is all about interaction and being able to make yourself understood. This is why syllables and also anxiety patterns in spoken English are so important.

English Word Stress Rules

Here are some general rules about word anxiety in English:

Only vowel sounds are stressed (a,e,i,o,u).

For example: table (noun), special (adjective), demand (verb).

Words ending in ‘ic’, ‘tion’ or ‘sion’ always area their anxiety on the penultimate (second to last) syllable. (e.g. supersonic, Atlantic, dedication, attention, transformation, comprehension).Words finishing in ‘cy’, ‘ty’, ‘gy’ and also ‘al’ always place their tension on the 3rd from last syllable. (e.g. accountancy, sincerity, chronology, inspirational, hypothetical).Words ending in ‘sm’ via 3 or fewer syllables have actually their anxiety on the initially syllable (e.g. prism, schism, autism, botulism, sarcasm) unless they are extensions of a stem word. This is often the case via words finishing ‘ism’.Words finishing in ‘ism’ tfinish to follow the stress and anxiety dominion for the stem word with the ‘ism’ tagged onto the finish (e.g. cannibal = cannibalism, expression = expressionism, feminist = feminism, opportunist = opportunism).Words ending in ‘sm’ with 4 or more syllables tend to have their stress on the second syllable (e.g. enthusiasm, metabolism).


Words finishing in ‘ous’

Words finishing in ‘ous’ via 2 syllables have their stress on the initially syllable (e.g. monstrous, pious, anxious, pompous, zealous, conscious, famous, gracious, gorgeous, jealous, joyous).English words ending in ‘ous’ via 4 syllables generally have actually their anxiety on the second syllable (e.g. gregarious, anonymous, superfluous, androgynous, carnivorous, tempestuous, luxurious, hilarious, continuous, conspicuous). Tbelow are some exceptions utilizing different stressed syllables, such as sacrilegious, which stresses the 3rd syllable.

Words finishing in ‘ous’ through 3 or more syllables do not always follow a set tension pattern. Here are some common English words through 3 syllables finishing in ‘ous’ and also their stress placement:

Words finishing in ‘ous’ with stress on first syllable

fabulous, frivolous, glamorous, calculus, dubious, envious, scandalous, serious, tenuous, chivalrous, dangerous, furious

Words ending in ‘ous’ with anxiety on second syllable

enormous, audacious, facetious, disastrous, ficticious, horrendous, contagious, ambitious, courageous


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Stress can changing the meaning of a word

Remember, where we area the stress and anxiety in English can change the definition of a word. This have the right to bring about some funny misunderstandings – and some frustrating conversations!

Words that have actually the exact same spelling yet a different pronunciation and interpretation are called heteronyms. Here are a few examples of words wbelow the stressed syllable alters the meaning of the word:


The word ‘object’ is an instance of an English word that have the right to change definition relying on which syllable is stressed. When the word is pronounced ‘object’ (through a stress on the first syllable) the word is a noun meaning an ‘item’, ‘purpose’ or ‘person/thing that is the focus’ of a sentence.

For example:

She handed the lady a rectangular object made of metalHe was the object of the dog’s affectionThe ring was an object of high valueThe object of the interview was to discover the finest candiday for the jobThe object was tiny and shiny – it might have been a diamond ring!

But if the very same word is pronounced ‘object‘ (with the stress and anxiety on the second syllable) the word is now a verb, definition ‘to disagree with’ somepoint or someone.

For example:

They object to his continuous latenessThe male objected to the dimension of his neighbour’s brand-new conservatoryShe strongly objects to being called a liarWe object to the structures being demolishedNo one objected to the proposal for more web traffic lights

When the word ‘present’ is pronounced ‘present’ (through the anxiety on the first syllable) the word is a noun interpretation ‘a gift’ or an adjective interpretation ‘here / not absent’.

For example:

She handed him a beautitotally wrapped presentThe book was a present out from their grandparentsEveryone was present out at the meeting

But once the word is pronounced ‘present’ (via the stress on the second syllable) the word is now a verb interpretation ‘to introduce’ somepoint or someone, ‘to show’ or ‘to bring to one’s attention’. It can also be used as soon as talking around presenting a TV or radio show (i.e. to be a ‘presenter’).

For example:

May I present Charlotte Smith, our new store managerBruce Forsyth supplied to present ‘Strictly Come Dancing’I’d choose to present my study on the breeding behavior of frogsThey presented the glittering trophy to the winnerShe was presented with the OscarThis brand-new situation presents a problem

Another instance of an English word transforming meaning depending upon wbelow you place the stress and anxiety is the word ‘project’. This can be the noun as soon as the stressed syllable is at the begin – ‘project’ (a task).

For example:

They began occupational on the research study project immediatelyShe looked forward to her next project – repainting the houseHe took pleasure in writing restaurant reviews – it was his present passion project

However, this word becomes a verb once the stressed syllables moves to the end – ‘to project‘ (to throw/launch, to protrude, to cause a photo to appear on a surchallenge, or to come across/make an impression).

For example:

The object was projected into the air at high velocityThe film will certainly be projected onto the screenThe chimney projects 3 metres from the roofShe constantly projects herself with confidence

Stress patterns in compound words 

Compound words are single words made up of two distinctive components. They are sometimes hyphenated. Here are examples of tension trends in compound words in English:

Compound nouns have the anxiety on the initially part: e.g. sugarcane, beetroot, henhome, tripwire, lighthome, newspaper, porthole, roundaround, willpowerCompound adjectives and verbs have actually the stress and anxiety on the second part:e.g. wholehearted, green-fingered, old-fashioned, to understand, to inform, to short-change, to overtake

English sentence stress 

Once you understand word stress in English, you should think about sentence stress. This indicates deciding which words to stress as component of the sentence overall. Stressed syllables can create a distinctive, rhythmic pattern within a sentence. This is just how English anxiety fads are concerned the rhythm of English and also help create the ‘music’ of a language.

English speakers tfinish to put anxiety on the the majority of vital words in a sentence in order to draw the listener’s attention to them. The a lot of vital words are the words that are crucial for the meaning of the sentence. Sentence stress and anxiety is just as necessary as word anxiety for clarity. For example:

‘The cat sat on the mat while eating its favourite food’

The many necessary words here are: ‘cat’, ‘mat’, ‘eating’ and also ‘food’. Even if you only hear those words, you would still be able to understand what is happening in the sentence ssuggest from hearing which words are stressed.

Clat an early stage, it is the nouns and verbs that are the a lot of important components of the sentence, as these are the ‘content words’ that help via definition. Content words are generally stressed.

The adjectives, adverbs and also conjunctions all include flavour to the sentence, yet they are not absolutely important to understand also the definition. These ‘helper’ words are typically unstressed.

In our example sentence: ‘The cat sat on the mat while eating its favourite food’, we have actually already supplied the word ‘cat’ so we perform not must emphasise the word ‘its’ (or ‘he/she’ if you want to give the cat a gender), because we currently understand that is eating the food (i.e. the cat).

English word stress and anxiety within a sentence

Stress patterns affect words and sentences in English.

The tension on a word (the word stress) is the emphasis inserted on that word. In the sentence below, “I never before shelp he ate your chocolate”, the stressed word will readjust the interpretation or implication of the sentence:


Stressing the first word ‘I’ implies that I (the speaker) never before sassist it. It might be true or it can not be true – the allude is, I never before said it – someone else did.

Stressing the second word ‘never’ emphasises that I never shelp it. Tright here was never an occasion when I said it (whether it is true or not).

Stressing the third word ‘said’ implies that I never said it. He could have consumed your chocolate, however I didn’t say it. I might have assumed it, yet I never shelp it out loud (I might just have actually implied it).

Stressing the fourth word ‘he’ suggests I didn’t say it was him that ate your cocoa, just that someone did.

Stressing the fifth word ‘ate’ indicates I didn’t say he had eaten it. Perhaps he took it and also threw it away or did something else through it.

Stressing the 6th word ‘your’ indicates it wasn’t your chocolate he ate – it can have been someone else’s cacao.

Stressing the seventh word ‘chocolate’ emphases that it was not your chocolate he ate – he ate something else belonging to you.

So the sentence stress and anxiety in English renders all the distinction to the meaning of the whole sentence. The stressed word in the sentence is the one we should pay the the majority of attention to.

Stress placement affects the whole expertise of the English language. This concern is strongly related to the rhythm of English. Getting the ideal word stress, sentence stress and rhythm leads to the perfect communication of your intfinished message.

Stressed Vowel Sounds and Weak Vowels in English

The essential words in an English sentence are stressed more by enhancing the length and also clarity of the vowel sound.

In comparison, the unvital words are stressed much less by using a much shorter and also much less clear vowel sound. This is called a ‘weak’ vowel sound.

In reality, sometimes the vowel sound is virtually inaudible. For example, the letter ‘a’ in English is often decreased to a muffled ‘uh’ sound. Grammarians contact this a ‘shwa’ or /ə/.

You can hear this ‘weak’ vowel sound at the start of the words ‘about’ and also ‘attack’ and also at the finish of the word ‘banana’. They can sound favor ‘ubout’, ‘uttack’ and ‘bananuh’ once spoken by a native English speaker. The post ‘a’ as a solitary word is likewise unstressed and also diminished in this means to a weak ‘uh’ sound.

For example: ‘Is tright here a shop nearby?’ sounds like ‘Is there-uh shop nearby?’ This shwa deserve to additionally be heard in other instances, such as in the word ‘and’ when it is supplied in a sentence. For example: ‘This book is for me and you’ deserve to sound sound prefer ‘This book is for me un(d) you’.

The reason for this weak anxiety pattern in English is to assist the rhythm and rate of speech. Using this weak ‘uh’ sound for the vowel ‘a’ helps the speaker acquire ready for the following stressed syllable by keeping the mouth and lips in a neutral place.

To pronounce the ‘a’ even more plainly would require a better opening of the mouth, which would slow-moving the speaker down.


The giraffe on the ideal holds its mouth and lips in a neutral position, prepared to soptimal again – picture source

As English is a stress-timed language, the consistent stresses are necessary for the rhythm of the language, so the vowel sounds of unstressed words in English regularly gain ‘lost’.

In contrast, syllable-timed languages (such as Spanish) tfinish to work in the opposite means, stressing the vowel sounds strongly, while the consonants obtain ‘lost’.

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Click on the highlighted message to learn even more about how English word stress and anxiety and sentence tension relates to the rhythm of English and also intocountry in English.

What do you think about syllables and stress in English?

Do you uncover the syllables and tension trends a difficult part of finding out a brand-new language?

Have you had any funny misunderstandings from stressing the wrong syllable in English? We’d love to hear your stories!

Are there any kind of English words or sentences through odd stressed syllables or hard stress trends that you would certainly prefer advice on?

Can you think of good way to remember or practise correct English word anxiety and sentence stress?

Do you have any ideregarding help EFL students boost their understanding of syllables and stress?