Sentence Stress in English Pronunciation

Sentence Stress in English Pronunciation


Hi, I’m Kae. Welcome to Oxford Online English! In this lesson, you can learn about sentence
stress in English. Stress is very important for your English
pronunciation. There are many different types of stress in
English, and stress is used in many different ways. But wait a minute, what is stress? Stress means that you pronounce some syllables
more strongly than others. ‘More strongly’ means you pronounce these
syllables more loudly, more clearly, and more slowly. Pronouncing sentence stress correctly will
make a big difference to your English pronunciation. You’ll immediately sound clearer and more
natural when you speak English. Let’s start by looking at sentence stress
in more detail. Look at a sentence: How about we go for a coffee this afternoon? In this sentence, there are two kinds of words;
let’s call them content words and grammar words. Content words give you the meaning of the
sentence. The content words here are go, coffee, this
and afternoon. If you don’t hear these words, you won’t
understand the sentence. Grammar words don’t carry meaning. They’re grammatically necessary; they connect
the content words together. Think about it this way: if someone comes
up to you and says, “Go coffee this afternoon?” you can understand what they mean, even if
it sounds a bit weird. So, why are we talking about this? Aren’t we supposed to be talking about sentence
stress? The difference between content words and grammar
words is the foundation of sentence stress. Content words are usually stressed, and grammar
words are usually unstressed. Listen and try to hear the stress: how about
we GO for a COFFEE THIS AFTERNOON? Listen again: how about we GO for a COFFEE
THIS AFTERNOON? Can you read the sentence with the stress? Repeat after me: how about we GO for a COFFEE
THIS AFTERNOON? Do it one more time: how about we GO for a
COFFEE THIS AFTERNOON? Let’s look at one more example sentence: My phone’s broken, so I’m going to buy
a new one. Which words do you think are content words,
and which words are grammar words? Before you answer, you should know one important
point. Sentence stress is flexible, and the line
between content words and grammar words isn’t fixed, so the answers we show you are just
the most probable ones; there are other possibilities. So, think about your sentence, and which words
you think are content words or grammar words. Pause the video if you want more thinking
time! Ready? Here’s our suggestion. Again, think about it like this: if you hear
the content words, you can understand the meaning of the sentence: “phone broken,
going buy new one.” If you hear only the grammar words, it doesn’t
make any sense at all: “my so I’m to a.” By the way, this idea can also really help
your English listening. You can see that you don’t need to hear
every word to understand the meaning of a sentence. If you focus on listening to the stressed
words, you can understand someone’s meaning, even if you don’t hear the unstressed grammar
words. Anyway, let’s practice this sentence. Can you say the sentence with the stress? Repeat after me: my PHONE’S BROKEN, so i’m
GOING to BUY a NEW ONE. Try once more: my PHONE’S BROKEN, so i’m
GOING to BUY a NEW ONE. Okay, now you know the basics about sentence
stress. Let’s see what you can do! Look at three sentences: Could you get some bread from the bakery on
your way here? I heard that the weather’s going to be bad
tomorrow. He has no idea what he wants to do after he
graduates. So, first of all, pause the video, and find
the stressed words in these three sentences. Take as much time as you need, and start again
when you’re ready. Okay? Let’s look at our suggested answers. Remember that other answers are possible: Next, let’s try reading the sentences together. Repeat after me, and pay attention to the
stress: could you GET some BREAD from the BAKERY on your WAY HERE? Try it once more: could you GET some BREAD
from the BAKERY on your WAY HERE? Let’s do the next one: i HEARD that the
WEATHER’S going to be BAD TOMORROW. One more time: i HEARD that the WEATHER’S
going to be BAD TOMORROW. Let’s try the third sentence: he has NO
IDEA WHAT he WANTS to DO AFTER he GRADUATES. Again: he has NO IDEA WHAT he WANTS to DO
AFTER he GRADUATES. How was that? Easy? Difficult? Remember that you can go back and review this
section as many times as you need to. You can also adjust the video speed to make
it easier or more difficult. For example, if you find it difficult, watch
this section again at point seven five or point five speed. Practice at a lower speed until you can pronounce
the stress easily. Then, try again at full speed! Now, to pronounce sentence stress well, you
also need to pay attention to the unstressed words in a sentence. Why is this? Here’s a very important point about sentence
stress, or any stress. Stress is about contrast. You heard before that stress means pronouncing
some syllables more loudly, more clearly, and more slowly than others. That means that stress is relative. To pronounce stress clearly, you need a clear
contrast between your stressed and unstressed syllables. So, when you’re practicing sentence stress,
you should pay equal attention to the unstressed words. Let’s look at an example, using a sentence
you saw before: could you GET some BREAD from the BAKERY on
your WAY HERE? You need to pronounce the stressed words more
strongly, and you need to pronounce the unstressed words at a lower volume and a higher speed. Often, unstressed words have a weak pronunciation. Knowing how to pronounce weak forms is also
important if you want to pronounce sentence stress clearly. Let’s try something. Read the sentence. Make the stressed words as clear as possible. Exaggerate the stress a little bit. Pronounce the unstressed words as fast as
you can. Try to get a really clear contrast between
the stressed and unstressed words. Listen first: could you GET some BREAD from
the BAKERY on your WAY HERE? Now you try: could you GET some BREAD from
the BAKERY on your WAY HERE? Let’s do one more example, with a new sentence. Look at the sentence: i HAVEN’T HEARD ANYTHING from them SINCE
their WEDDING. Try reading the sentence. Again, focus on the contrast between stressed
and unstressed syllalbles: i HAVEN’T HEARD ANYTHING from them SINCE their WEDDING. It’s worth spending some time practicing
this contrast: if you can pronounce the contrast between stressed and unstressed sounds clearly,
your English will sound much better and more natural. We were exaggerating the contrast slightly,
so that you could hear it clearly. It’s fine to do this while you’re practicing! You can go back and review this section, or
review the previous section and focus on contrast in your pronunciation. What’s next? Well, you heard before that sentence stress
is flexible. Let’s talk more about that! Hello, what can I get you? One chocolate and raspberry muffin and a small
americano with milk, please. Sorry, you said a CHOCOLATE and raspberry
muffin? That’s right! Here you are! I said a chocolate RASPBERRY muffin. Oh, I am sorry! I thought you said chocolate and STRAWBERRY. Also, is there milk in this coffee? Did you want MILK? I thought you said an americano with SUGAR! No, with MILK! I’ll make you a new one. One cappuccino with milk coming up. No, not CAPPUCINO! AMERICANO! Right, right, just a minute. Sentence stress is flexible. It doesn’t follow strict rules; instead,
it depends on the meaning you want to express. Sometimes, one idea in your sentence is more
important than others. You’ll add extra stress to this idea. Why does this happen? One reason is to contradict or correct someone. For example: Buenos Aires is the capital of China. No, Mikey. Buenos Aires is the capital of ARGENTINA. BEIJING is the capital of China. Two plus two is five. No, Mikey. Two plus two is FOUR. Carrots are green. No, Mikey. Carrots are ORANGE. Another reason to add extra stress is that
you want to contrast two ideas. For example: i didn’t want CAPPUCINO; i wanted an AMERICANO. she doesn’t live in PARIS; she lives in
ROME. the flight left at TEN? but i thought it left
at TWELVE! Finally, you might add extra stress just to
emphasise one idea in your sentence, like this: ARE you going to london tomorrow? –>Meaning: I’m emphasising the question,
because I want a yes or no answer from you. are YOU going to london tomorrow? –>Meaning: I know some other people are
going to London, but I want to know if you are going. This stress pattern is often used to show
surprise. are you going to london TOMORROW? –>Meaning: I know you’re going to London
on another day, but I want to know specifically about tomorrow. Again, this suggests that I’m surprised. In all of these cases, you add extra stress
to one word in the sentence. This doesn’t replace ‘regular’ sentence
stress. Instead, it’s like an extra layer on top
of it. In the question Are you going to London tomorrow,
the content words going, London and tomorrow are stressed. If you want to add stress to emphasise one
idea, then you add this on top of the existing stress. For example: are YOU going to london tomorrow? In this case, you add ‘regular’ sentence
stress to going, London and tomorrow, and ‘extra’ sentence stress to you. The ‘extra’ stress should be stronger
than the ‘regular’ stress. Try it! Repeat after me: are YOU going to london tomorrow? Try one more time: are YOU going to london
tomorrow? Note that this ‘extra’ stress can be anywhere,
including on grammar words. So now, you know the most important points
about sentence stress in English. Here’s a question: what do you think you
need to focus on most in your English pronunciation? What would make the biggest difference for
you? Let us know in the comments. If you give us a good idea, we might make
a video about your suggestion! Did you know that we offer online English
classes which can help you to improve your English pronunciation? Check out our website for details: Oxford
Online English dot com. Thanks for watching! See you next time!

62 comments on “Sentence Stress in English Pronunciation

  1. Максим Максимов Post author

    The biggest difficulty for me is to understand spoken language. I fully understand your lessons and news on television, but I cannot understand the speech in the movies.

    Reply
  2. Snehal Hedau Post author

    It takes a lot of time to implement in regular reading. It also reduces my reading speed because first I have to think about grammar words and contents words then I have to read a sentence. It is a bit difficult for me.

    Reply
  3. tsewang norboo Post author

    To be able to speak clearly, loudly and slowly using unstress or stress , I think ! must travel to English speaker country appropriately England . It is the only way to speak like a native .
    But I have no idea how to give a suggestion about this lesson.
    Anyway I love learning English no Matter how long it will take to speak like a native speaker . I will never give up it is my dream to achieve it with the help of you wonderful teachers …,🌺🌺🌺

    Reply
  4. Ravindra Academy Post author

    Hi. Kae ,Mikey.Infect for the first time I came to know profoundly how to use content words and variation of sense.Thanks for this great effort.

    Reply
  5. André Paiva Post author

    I've been studying English for 1 year and 8 months and that's one of the best video I watched because I really need to improve my pronounciation and for sure that's the best channel I've found. Thanks guys for create this channel and make many videos for us! 👏👏👏👏

    Reply
  6. Yousif Mohammed Post author

    it's a wonderful lesson indeed. Not only I focus on the content of the lesson but also about the accent and the way you speak . Ms Kae has a little bit of American accent. She is great teacher.

    Reply
  7. Oxford Online English Post author

    Share a translation in your own language and help others learn! http://www.youtube.com/timedtext_video?v=rnJCKda4oWU&ref=share

    Reply
  8. Lovely Ririen Ji Post author

    Could u please to explain why did in minutes 4.59 n 5.07, between Kae n Mikey pronounce the word "here" in 1st sentence differently? Thank U.

    Reply
  9. Ache Dangmei Post author

    In evry language intonation and sentence stress is the most important thing to learn any language.

    Reply
  10. Emma König Post author

    Why is "on your" written with correct IPA in the beginning. Do you only change one on the vowels to schwa?

    Reply
  11. peter butter Post author

    I‘ve noticed in the video, in BE, questions ends with a falling tone, but in AE, it's rising tone. I'm truly thankful for this excellent video.

    Reply
  12. Abhi Post author

    It could be more helpful if you prepare a video about intonation, stress and rhythm with different types of paragraphs which will help us to learn good pronunciation.

    Reply
  13. Kamon Wong Post author

    I have some question. For this sentence; I HEARD that the WEATHER'S going to be BAD TOMORROW. Why don't we stress on "going"? In the previous video, it tells to stress on verb too. I just confuse with this one. Thank you in advance for your answer.

    Reply
  14. Amazing Vipul Post author

    Very informative video. Thanks for sharing. I get out of breath easily while speaking in English. Could you please suggest some breathing process or techniques to overcome this difficulty.

    Reply
  15. John-Herman Bignon Post author

    Thumbs all the way up for this one, straight up! As a non native speaker, I realise through the pronunciation aspect developed through this video that sounding like the native speakers isn't that much of a mystery for me anymore. Thanks a lots Guys!🙏

    Reply
  16. Erci Andrade Post author

    C'mon! You just wanna make our lives difficult. The subject should be content words specially in English you don't conjugate the verb in all people. What parts of speech are content words?

    Reply
  17. shivani sharma Post author

    Some of us were unable to put our thoughts into words. I want to know why? and what is the solution to this problem?'

    Reply
  18. Arman Kozhamkulov Post author

    These two teachers have different accents. And it's very funny to look at how they pronounce Carrot at time 10.24 and 10.27. After that I'am a bit confused what is the right pronunciation cArrots or cAErots.

    Reply

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