Today I’m going to talk about word stress.
Word stress is the idea that in a word with more than one syllable, one (or more than
one) syllable will be stressed or accented. And the rest will be unstressed, or, unaccented.
Notice that I’m using the words ‘stress’ and ‘accent’ interchangeably. So, in English,
not all syllables are created equal. Stressed or accented syllables will be higher in pitch,
longer in duration, and generally a little louder than unstressed or unaccented syllables.
So let’s look at some examples. Chapter. A two syllable word, chapter, which syllable
do you think is stressed? It’s the first syllable, chapter. Can you hear that it’s
louder, and that it’s higher in pitch? Another example, undo, undo. I hope you can hear that
here, the stress falls on the second syllable. Chapter, undo. The word imagination. Imagination
– ‘na’ has a primary stress. But there is a secondary stress in this word. Ima-,
on the second syllable. Imagination. So what is a secondary stress? This means that it
will be a little higher in pitch, maybe a little longer in duration, but not quite as
much as the syllable in the word that has the primary stress. Does word stress really
matter? Absolutely. It can affect the pronunciation, it can affect the meaning of a word. Let’s
take for example this word. As an adjective or a noun, the stress falls on the first syllable.
Present, present. As a verb, the stress falls on the second syllable, present, present.
So as a noun or adjective, the first vowel is the ‘eh’ as in ‘bed’, and the second
syllable, unaccented, is the schwa. In the verb form, however, present, the first vowel,
in the unaccented syllable, is the ‘ih’ as in ‘sit’ vowel. And the second vowel
in the stressed syllable is the ‘eh’ as in ‘bed’. Present, present. It’s an
important part to being understood. To work on this, take a look at the video Listening
Comprehension in Two-Syllable Words, and see if you can tell based on hearing which syllable
is stressed. Also, more videos on this topic will be made. That’s it, and thanks so much
for using Rachel’s English.