Word Stress

characteristics of stressed and 

unstressed syllables

word stress pattern rules

            Do you know the differences between stressed syllables and unstressed syllables? 

            Look at the following chart first.


Vowel Length
Vowel Clarity


So, when you say a word more than one syllable, remember to make the stressed syllable louder, longer, clearer, and higher pitched.

  • Listening Exercise (A):

      Listen to the words in each pair, and then decide whether the two words in each pair have the same stress pattern.
            Choose " S " for the same or " D " for different.


     e.g.    You hear the words " ro man tic" and " ham bur ger,"

    then you find the stress for "romantic" is on the 2nd syllable, but the stress for "hamburger" is on the 1st syllable, so you choose  " D " - different.

    1.  Using suffixes to predict stress

        (A)  Stress the suffix itself:

 - ee   employee     refugee      trainee     referee
 - eer  engineer      career       volunteer 
 - ese  Chinese     Japanese      Portuguese
 - ique   unique        antique        technique
        (B)  Stress the syllable immediately before the suffix:
 - ial   memorial     financial     artificial      essential 
 - ual  visual     unusual      intellectual     individual
 - ian  Canadian     vegetarian     pedestrian     politician
 - sion  explosion     occasion     conclusion     permission 
 - tion  definition     production    situation     qualification
 - cient    ancient    sufficient     efficient     deficient
 - cious  delicious     conscious      suspicious 
 - tious   ambitious     superstitious     cautious      conscientious
 - ic   academic     energetic     fantastic     terrific     realistic
 - ity  ability     necessity     publicity      possibility     humidity
 - ify  classify     terrify      humidify     personify     solidify
 - logy   biology     sociology     anthropology     psychology
 - graphy    geography     autobiography     photography     pornography
 - meter  kilometer     parameter     speedometer     thermometer
         (C)  Stress  the second syllable before the suffix:
 - ate   operate    exaggerate     associate     integrate     certificate
 - ize  apologize     criticize     recognize     computerize
 - ary  secretary     necessary     contemporary     vocabulary 
 - ous   dangerous     mysterious     spontaneous    simultaneous

    2.  Using Parts of Speech to predict stress

          (A)  For certain two-syllable words used as both nouns and verbs,
                stress nouns on the first syllable, and verbs on the second syllable.

       Noun            Verb                                   Example 
  1.  record         record                  The bank recorded a new record yesterday. 
  2.  present       present                He presented his wife with a beautiful present. 
  3.  conduct      conduct               They're conducting a study into his conduct. 
  4.  suspect      suspect               The suspect was suspected of robbing the bank. 
  5.  desert         desert                  The desert is so dry that it is usually deserted.

        (B)  Stress compound nouns on the first part/word:

  deadline           classroom             software           typewriter          policeman              airplane 
  bus station       air conditioner       sports car       credit card         stock market         Great wall

         (C)  Stress two-word verbs more strongly on the second word,
               but for their noun equivalents, stress them on the first part.

 Noun:   Here's the printout. 
               She's a dropout. 
               Where's the checkout counter? 
               There was a holdup at the bank. 
               This clearly is a setup.

  Verb:   He printed it out
               She dropped out
               Can I check it out
               Hold up your hand. 
               I'll set up a meeting for you.


1.    Why doesn't he like the desert? 
            Why doesn't he like the dessert?

(A)  It's too dry. 
(B)  It's too sweet.

2.    What does he think of Europe
            What does he think of your rope?

(A)  It's a wonderful place to go. 
(B)  It's not strong enough.

3.     Is it elementary? 
             Is it a lemon tree?

(A)  No, it's very advanced. 
(B)  No, it's an orange tree.

4.     I like that greenhouse very much. 
             I like that green house very much.

(A)  Really? Can you see many plants there? 
(B)  Really? I like the blue one.

5.    What does "eligible" mean? 
            What does "illegible" mean?

(A)  It means qualified. 
(B)  It means difficult to read.

6.    Tom likes pineapples. 
            Tom likes pie and apples.

(A)  Yes, they are his favorite fruit. 
(B)  Yes, he always eats them for breakfast.

word stress
sentence rhythm