This page will teach you why word stress is the key to understanding rapid spoken English. Listen to the examples! Pronunciation for learners of English.
Word stress is the emphasis placed on certain syllables in a word. The Syllables that are stressed tend to be louder and longer, while the unstressed syllables are shorter and softer. Each word in English is not pronounced with the same amount of force or vigor. We emphasize just one syllable every word. We pronounce one syllable (large, strong, important) quite loudly and all the other syllables very softly.
There are three types of word stress: primary, secondary, and tertiary.
There are many factors that can influence where the stress falls in a word. For example, the addition of suffixes or prefixes can change the position of the stress.
Examples of Word Stress
Here are some examples of words with different stresses:
PRIMARY STRESS: RE-cord, con-TRACT, ob-JECT
SECONDARY STRESS: pre-SENT, com-MIT, per-MIT
TERTIARY STRESS: pho-TO-graph, bus-I-ness, in-FANT
Stressed syllables are longer or uttered with a higher or lower pitch than the others, which causes the air to be expelled from our lungs with more force. Unstressed syllables are those that are not pronounced with the same intensity as the others; they are typically not pronounced as clearly.