The Music of English – Syllable Stress

In Episode 1 of my YouTube series The Music of English, I talk about the importance of stress in English pronunciation. It’s not necessarily the way you’re pronouncing each consonant or vowel that’s causing misunderstandings. It could be because you’re putting the stress on the wrong syllable or the wrong word. Because English is a stress-timed language, we anglophones depend on hearing the stress to understand the meaning. So it’s especially important to pay attention to where you put the stress. The series begins by looking at how we create stress in multi-syllable words.

After you’ve listened to Episode 1,

download the transcript and listen again while you read along. First, if there are any words you missed the first time round, reading the transcript will help you understand. Then pay attention to the location of the stress in each multi-syllable word. For now, just practise listening carefully. You can even mark the stressed syllables on the transcript. Watch the video of the Canadian singer Michael Bublé singing “Haven’t Met You Yet.” I love the song. It makes me smile ‘til my face hurts. You can really hear how the melody emphasizes the stressed syllables. But, be careful. There’s one five-syllable word that he repeatedly stresses on the first and last syllables instead of on the third, until the last time he sings it.

Can you figure out which word I’m talking about?

The answer is the word “possibility.”

If you have any questions, I’d love to hear from you.

Meanwhile, you can download the transcript of Episode 1 – Syllable Stress below.