Prominence

Listen to the following sentence. Which words are stressed?

A. Do you want a glass of wine?
B. No, I want a bottle of wine.

A. Do you want a glass of wine?
B. No, I want a bottle of wine.

How do we know which words to stress?

  • In spoken English we give prominence (stress) to new information.
  • The most stressed word in a sentence/unit is normally the last new word (tonic syllable).
  • We do not normally stress old information (wine in answer B) or function words.
  • Stress is created using a combination of volume, pitch and length.

DRILL

Repeat the following:

A. Can you look after my cat?
B. I’m sorry, I hate cats.

A. Our Prime minister’s name is Dean Cameron.
B. Don’t you mean David Cameron?

A. Let’s go to Paris.
B. Great! I’ve never been to Paris before.

A. Shall we eat at Lisa’s?
B. We always eat at Lisa’s. Can we try somewhere different?

Exercise

Listen to the recording and choose the prominent words in each sentence.

A. I have a new car.
B. What kind of car?
A. It’s a Ferrari, a red Ferrari, a brand new red Ferrari.
B. Really? Is it a Ferrari convertible?
A. No, it’s a semi-convertible.

A. I have a new car.
B. What kind of car?
A. It’s a Ferrari, a red Ferrari, a brand new red Ferrari.
B. Really? Is it a Ferrari convertible?
A. No, a semi-convertible.

Other lessons that relate to this are Tonic Syllable and Prominence on Function Words.

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