Rhythm, intonation, and stress in English are the three factors in acquiring or in becoming a good English speaker. If you are able to master the speed of how you speak, the intensity of how you speak, and the flow of how you speak, then you are ready to conquer the English word.

So, let’s dive into the worlds of rhythm, intonation, and stress in English and thank us later because it helped you in your speaking skill of the English language. Shall we begin? Alright.

Intonation

stress in english

Intonation is the ‘music’ of the language. It speaks about the pitch, pattern, or melody of the words in a given sentence. Intonation enables us to know the underlying meaning of the sentence because of its varying pitch.  It also shows different emotions like surprise, confusion, and etc.

To fully understood what we meant, here are the different types of intonation.

Types of Intonation

Falling intonation

A falling intonation describes how the voice falls on the last syllable of the last word. This intonation is usually used in –wh questions- what, where, when, why, and how.

Examples:

Why are you not busy today?

How are you going to pass all of those papers on time?

In addition, we also use falling intonation if we want to emphasize things or we want to be definite or clear with our words or intentions.

Examples:

I think we locked the door properly. 

We are certain about this project proposal of ours.

Rising Intonation

The rising intonations can be placed at the end or at the last syllable of the word in a sentence. Yes- no questions use rising intonation.

Examples:

Are you sure about that?

Is this dress looks pretty on me?

Fall-rise Intonation

Fall-rise intonation is the combination of the two prior intonations- falling and rising intonations. The fall-rise intonation how the speaker’s voice falls and then rises at the same time in the same sentence. We use fall-rise if we are indefinite or not sure with our words or ideas presented.

Examples:

I don’t like the idea of marriage right now. 

He thinks it would be okay to start planning next week. 

We also utilize fall-rise intonation if we are doing questions that intend to ask permission, request, or an invitation to someone. Fall-rise intonation sounds politer than using falling intonation or rising intonation.

Examples:

Would like another glass of wine?

Do you want to join me for dinner? It will be fun. 

Stress

In phonology, stress means you give emphasis on the specific syllable of the word.

Stress in English is an important variable in sentence making or speaking.  At the sentence level, wrong stress placement can change the whole meaning of the sentence and that’s something we should be very careful with.  Thus, we will grasp the idea of how stress is being placed in a certain word.

Stress in English placement rules

One word, one syllable

No matter how long or short the word is, there will always be only one stress.  Some words have secondary stress. However, the emphasis in the secondary stress is way milder compared to the primary stress. Thus, the secondary stress seems it does not exist.

No stress on consonant sounds

It is important that you know how to place your stress in a word. So, this rule is a vital rule to follow to jive with the tune of the English language. These are stress placements for consonant sounds:

Disyllabic noun or adjective placement

This where you put the stress at the first syllable of the word.

Example:

Noun- PREsent, ABsent, JEAlous

Adjective- PREtty, Adorable, CLEver

Disyllabic verb

Disyllabic stress is a stress that can be found in the last syllable of the word. Usually, this stress implies to words that connote action.

Example:

preSENT, abSENT, aMAZEd

Penultimate syllable

The stress can be located at the second syllable from the end of the word.

Example:

GRAPHic, beauTIful, charisMAtic,

Ante-penultimate syllable

The ante-penultimate syllable focuses its stress on the third syllable word from the end.

Example:

deMOcracy, dependaBIlity, phoTOgraphy

Compound word syllable

A compound word syllable stress varies depending on what type of word it is. For compound nouns and adjective, the stress is on the first syllable. While for verbs, it is on the second or last syllable of the word.

Examples:

BIRDbox, overFLOW, high-FAshioned

Rhythm

stress in english

Rhythm is one of the elements of speech that talks about motions. It describes the movements- speech and cadence of the words used in a sentence. Just like intonation and stress, rhythm is an important factor in expressing effective sentence making or speech delivering. However, we need to know the underlying factors that affect rhythm.

We should be aware that rhythm has two elements that are vital in mastering it. Syllables and stress in English are the two elements of rhythm. These two elements are the factors of rhythm that affect in delivering the speech.

Elements of Rhythm

Stress

Stress in English affects the rhythm of the words in a sentence. If you will place the wrong stress in one of the words in the sentence, the whole meaning of the sentence will be changed and the rhythm as well will be changed.

Example:

Incorrect: She is preSENT in the program. (The way you read the sentence is fast.)

Correct: She is PREsent in the program. (The way you read the sentence is slow.)

Take note, the moment we change the stress of the word “present” the definition changes and the rhythm changes as well.

Syllables

The number of syllables in a sentence affects the rhythm of the sentence. Each syllable has an equivalent meter per sentence. If the sentence has 10 syllables then the rhythm is slow and if it has 4 syllables then it is slower.

Examples:

An amazing teacher has a lot of patience to teach. – The sentence has 14 syllables and the rhythm is slow but longer.

The dog runs at the back.-  The sentence has 6 syllables and the rhythm is fast.

We hope you have learned what are rhythm, intonation, and speech in English and what are their individual roles in the English language.

For more interesting topics: you may read: Asking questions: Types and Tips on How to Ask

Vowels and Consonants of the Alphabet