Stressed and Unstressed Syllables

Teacher: Welcome to daily tips on learning English. Today's tip is on stressed and unstressed syllables.

Teacher: Every English word of more than one syllable and every complete sentence has at least one stressed syllable.

Teacher: A stressed syllable is pronounced more prominently than surrounding syllables. Simply put, we say it louder and we lengthen the vowel sound.

Teacher: Unstressed syllables are just the opposite. They are not as loud and the vowel sound is usually reduced.

Teacher: Vowel sounds are most often reduced to ə or to ĭ.

Teacher: For example, in the word purpose, the first syllable is stressed and the vowel of the second syllable can be reduced to either ə as in purpose or ĭ as in purpose. Let me give you a complete sentence. I didn't do it on purpose. I didn't do it on purpose.

Teacher: The following word has three syllables. Which syllable is stressed? Banana, that's right. The second syllable is stressed. Listen now for the lengthening of the vowel in the stressed syllable. Banana, Banana, it's very important to stress the proper syllable to lengthen stressed syllables and to reduce unstressed vowels.

Teacher: This is essential if you want to achieve a proper English rhythm. If every syllable is given equal stress and length, what you will sound like is a robot. I didn't do it on purpose, I didn't do it on purpose. Proper rhythm comes from stressing only certain syllables and lengthening those syllables while reducing the others.

Teacher: Listen again to the example sentence and notice how only certain syllables are stressed and lengthened. I didn't do it on purpose. I didn't do it on purpose. I didn't do it on purpose. I didn't do it on purpose.

Teacher: We will talk about how to figure out what syllable or words to stress at sentence level in an upcoming program. But today's tip is to make sure that when you learn words of more than one syllable, you give special care to learning which syllable or syllables are stressed and to remember to lengthen the vowels in those syllables.

Teacher: This's been today's daily tip on learning English. Tune in tomorrow for another tip.