This is a good overview of English stress, both syllable stress and sentence stress (which words are stressed in a sentence.) It is directed towards Spanish speakers but useful for anyone who wants to learn more about this area.

Stress out!

stressPronunciation is the cause of many communication problems. Although many teachers stick to grammar and vocabulary, pronunciation is probably the single most important element of spoken language. Many people think of pronunciation in terms of individual sounds, but there is much more to pronunciation. In this issue, we’re going to study stress – the weight that you give to a word or sound.

Because Spanish has less dramatic stress patterns than English, students in Colombia can sometimes sound bored or boring, because of flat, monotonous pronunciation. Also, students concentrate so much on remembering trivial grammar points that speaking becomes a task to be completed, rather than a useful tool to express themselves.

Using sentence stress correctly makes you sound much more natural when you speak, which is an important difference between a basic speaker and a good speaker. You probably express yourself with a lot of enthusiasm in Spanish, so why not do it in English too?

Word stress

First, we’ll look at stress in individual words. Remember that in Spanish, stress is almost always on the penultimate syllable, but in English we usually stress the first syllable. There are no tildes in English to tell you which sound to stress, so you need to check pronunciation. All good dictionaries will give you guides to pronunciation, often using a phonemic alphabet, for example, /`dIk∫(ә)n(ә)ri/.

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