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Adm3 Week 7 English: A Stressed Time Language Maria Salomons

1) What does good pronunciation consist of?

Correct word stress
Correct sentence stress
Correct pronunciation of the characters in the word depending on the word itself,
e.g. the last syllable in women equals men, but has a different pronunciation.
(Maybe to stress that women and men are not that equal after all?)
2) English is a stressed time language. Explain in your own words what
stressed time means.
Stressed time means that in a sentence not all words are stressed equally
strong. The most important words are stressed while the other words are barely
3) Italian, Spanish and French are syllabic languages. What does this mean?
And what about your own language: is it syllabic or stressed?
Syllabic languages stress every word. Dutch is also a stressed time language,
although nowadays people tend to swallow even the most important words in a
4) Why is it difficult for speakers of syllabic languages to learn the
pronunciation of English?
If you are used to stress every word in a sentence, I gather it is quite difficult to
unlearn this.
5) Function words tend NOT to get stressed in English? What are function
words? Give two categories and two examples per category.
Function words are bridges between contents words. Function words are
prepositions (of, at, in) pronouns (he, they, it), determiners (the, a), conjunctions
(and, that), modal verbs (can, must, will), auxiliary verbs (be, have) and particles
(no, not, nor).
6) What are content words? Give two categories and two examples per
Content words are words that are not function words, such as nouns (computer,
bicycle), adjectives (happy, blue), full verbs (read, write), adverbs (very,
completely), numerals (one, two), interjections (eh)

7) In which cases do auxiliary verbs (function words) get stress?

If it is important, compare: Ive come to see you and I hve to come and see
8) How can you practice this at home? Give one example.
Practice the difference between contents words and functions words? By doing
my homework, I guess
9) Read the short text on Sentence Stress below. Fill in the gaps by using one
of the words below. You may use each word or word combination only
more slowly - content words - nouns - articles main verbs - slightly louder
sentence stress -adjectives - auxiliary verbs

Sentence Stress:
In spoken English, we use sentence stress to show our listeners which parts of our
sentences are the most important (the parts that carry the most meaning).
We usually stress content words, for example, nouns, adjectives and main verbs
rather than auxiliary verbs or articles.
We stress words by saying them more slowly and slightly louder than the other
words in the sentence.
10) Indicate which words in this sentence have stress by underlining them.
Explain why they have stress.
- Have you seen the new film with Tom Cruise?
Have: modal verb
You: Depending on the intention of the sentence, you can be stressed or not. If
you want to draw someone in a conversation (Have YOU seen) or that the film
itself is more important.
Seen: full verb
The: determiner
New: adjective
Film: noun
With: preposition
Tom Cuise: If you are not a fan of Tom, you might whisper his name

- In English, the more important words are stressed.

In: preposition
English: noun
The: determiner
More: determiner
Important: adjective
Words: noun
Are: auxiliary verb
Stressed: full verb
11) Now read the short text with pronunciation advice below. Underline the
words which are stressed in the first paragraph. Practise reading the first
paragraph out loud with a partner. Give each other feedback on pronunciation of
word and sentence stress.
Pronunciation Advice:
Be aware of word and sentence stress
In English, the words in a sentence which are not stressed and the syllables in a
word which are not stressed are said very quickly. The more important words are
stressed, so you should try to listen for them rather than every single word.
Context is important
You can quite often predict the kind of words a person will say to you. For
example, if you're buying a ticket for the train and you need to know the times
and the price, you can predict that the answer will contain numbers. You can
prepare yourself for these situations by thinking beforehand what the key words
are you'll need in order to understand the conversation.
It takes a while to get used to hearing how words actually sound when used by
native speakers. Don't be put off if you are unable to understand a film or a radio
programme in English. It's much easier when you speak to a native speaker of
English face-to-face because you can control the pace and the direction of the

This exercise was adapted from the BBC Learning English site: