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Chapter 4


Like other languages, English has a system of sounds, stress, and intonation that gives it a rhythm and melody all its own. Although you may be able to pronounce each sound of the language correctly, you need to learn to recognize stress and intonation pattern when you hear them so that they will be easier for you to understand. You also need to learn to use these patterns if others are to understand you more easily.

Stress refers to the degree of force or loudness you give to a syllable in a word or to a word or words in a phrase or a sentence. Stressing a syllable indicates the importance of that syllable. Stressing a word or words in phrases or sentences indicates the importance of those words.

Savvy 8第八招
Syllable Stress Patterns 音节重音

In every word of two or more syllables, one syllable is stressed. That means that the vowel sound in that syllable is said louder, is said on a higher pitch, and is held longer than the other vowel sounds in the same word. Other syllables are less stressed or are weak syllables. Make the vowel sound short, but pronounce the consonant sounds clearly and distinctly.


Listen to the following word groups.

desert or dessert? personal or personnel? comedy or committee?

Did you hear the difference? Where you place the stress on a syllable can change the meaning of your word. Syllable stress in English appears to be arbitrary. Yet there are rules that can help you. As you begin to memorize the following stress patterns, it's important to realize that there are many words that do not follow the patterns. Some times one word may fall under two possible rules. When this happens, check your dictionary for clarification.

Most two-syllable words in English are stressed on the first syllable. Words that come from early English origin have this pattern. Many commonly used words fall into this category.

better, only, over, leader, lady, hidden, careful.

1. Words that have entered English from French are stressed on the last syllable.

millionaire, veneer, trustee, burlesque, boutique, chauffeur.

2. Noun compounds: Two or three words that have been put together to form one new word usually carry the stress on the first word.

sidewalk, railroad, paycheck, airport, runway, supermarket.

3. Verb compounds usually place the stress on the first word.

baby-sit, house-sit, cat-sit, car-jack.

4. Phrasal verbs are stressed on the second word. Look out! The same expressions turned to nouns are stressed on the first word. A lookout.
动词短语的重音在第二个音节。如:Look out! 同一个动词短语,如果把重音放在第一个音节,就成了名词,如:A lookout。

To pay back A pay-back
To put down A put-down
To run down A run-down
To stand by A stand-by

5. Prefixes
The following one-syllable prefixes are usually unstressed.

○1 Prefix Example
前缀 词例
co- cooperate
con- continue
com- committee
de- deliver
dis- discuss
ex- exhibit
e- enough
mis- mistake
pre- prepare
pro- protest
re- reward

Certain one-syllable prefixes usually have secondary stress.

○2 Prefix Example
前缀 词例
bi- biology
in- inept
ir- irresponsible
mal- malnourish
non- nonpoisonous
pan- panorama
post- postpone
re- rewrite
sub- sublet
trans- transfer
un- unhappy

When two-syllable prefixes form a three-syllable word, there is usually primary stress on the first syllable, followed by an unstressed syllable and secondary stress on the third syllable. When two-syllable prefixes form a word of four or more syllables, there is usually secondary stress on the first syllable, not stress on the second, and primary stress on the third. The remaining syllables are unstressed.

○3 Prefix Three-syllable Word Four or More Syllables Word
前缀 三音节单词 四个以上音节单词
ante- antedate antecedent
anti- antifreeze antisocial
auto- automat automatic
circum- circumcise circumvention
counter- counterpoint counterclockwise
micro- microscope microscopic
mono- monorail monolingual
multi- multiply multinational
uni- universe universal
ultra- ultrasound ultraviolet

6. Suffixes
It is important to pronounce suffixes clearly, with the proper stress. Suffixes are almost unstressed. Say the vowel sound quickly and with your mouth almost closed, but pronounce the consonant sounds in these syllables distinctly.

○1 Noun suffixes 名词后缀

名词后缀 词例
-ance importance
-apher stenographer
-ate graduate
-ator senator
-ee employee
-ence occurrence
-ent current
-er driver
-eter thermometer
-ison unison
-ist socialist
-ity nationality
-ment government
-ogy biology
-sion expansion
-tion attention

○2 Adjective suffixes 形容词后缀

形容词后缀 词例
-able capable
-al musical
-ent current
-er braver
-est bravest
-ful helpful
-ian Canadian
-ible sensible
-ic automatic
-ical radical
-ier prettier
-iest silliest
-ior superior
-ive excessive
-le multiple
-ory sensory
-ous jealous

○3 Verb suffixes 动词后缀

动词后缀 词例
-ed wanted
-ing reading

○4 Adverb suffixes 副词后缀

副词后缀 词例
-ally practically
-ately privately
-ently permanently
-ly slowly
-ively competitively
-ously seriously

7. A certain group of verbs stress the second syllable while their corresponding noun forms are stressed on the first syllable.

作名词 作动词
combat combat
conduct conduct
conflict conflict
import import
incline incline
increase increase
record record
refund refund
subject subject
survey survey
suspect suspect

Your conduct is terrible.
You should conduct yourself more professionally.

We signed a contract to buy the house.
Now we have to contract an architect to remodel it.

The young boy's father wouldn't permit him to get a driver's permit.

I suspect he is one the of suspects.

There are other two-syllable verbs and nouns or adjectives spelled alike, but they do not follow this pattern. The pattern they follow is to be stressed on the same syllable, whichever that might be, first or second.

surprise, report, diet, accent.

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