Stress is an important feature of English pronunciation and to become a
powerful communicator of English one needs proficiency while using
different stress patterns in his communication. Modern man is fully aware of
the importance of English in everyday affairs of modern world. Men and
women both are aware of the extensive use of this language in the field of
trade and commerce, travel and tourasim, banking, administration, aviation,
law and above all education. And now with the advent of globalization and a
revolution in information technology, the importance of this language is
Stress is crucial in English pronunciation. It can be called a grammatical
device in English. In English a part of the meanings of a word depends on its
stress. It serves to mark the function of words in spoken English. Most of our
students learn English grammar from books. That is why their sense of stress
remain undeveloped. One thing should necessarily kept in mind that English
word are pronounced with one dominant syllable while the other syllables
tend to get squashed and reduced. So to say to become a powerful
communicator of English one must be proficient in using stress.
What is stress?
Stress is the degree of force with which a syllable or a word is uttered. It can
more easily be defined as degree of prominence a syllable has. When we put
a greater breath force on a syllable it becomes a stressed syllable. Stress is
also called the word accent of a sentence. If a syllable has more than one
syllable then one of the syllables stands out from the rest and this causes
In a word table the first syllable is /tei/. It is more prominent than the second
/bl/. Similarly in the word committee /k'miti/ the second syllable /mi/ is more
prominent. Taking example of recommend, the third syllable /mend/ is more
prominent than others and it is said to receive the accent.
Nature of Stress:
The nature of stress is simple enough. Everyone can easily understand that
first syllable of these words like father, open, camera is stressed. Then the
middle syllable in potato, apartment, and relation is stressed. Again we
notice that final syllable in about, receive, and perhaps are stressed.
Production and Perception of Stress Syllables:
We can study stress from the point of view of production and of perception.
Both are closely related but not identical. Production of stress is generally
believe to depend on the speaker using more muscular energy than is used for
unstressed syllables. Measurement of muscular effort is difficult but it seems
possible according to experimental study while producing stressed syllables
muscles that are used to expel air from the lungs are more active. Many
experiments have been carried out on the perception of stress. From
perceptual point of view all stressed syllable have one characteristic in
common and that is prominence. Stressed syllables are recognized as stressed
because they are more prominent than unstressed syllables.
Types of Stress:
There are two types of stress.
1) Word stress.
2) Sentence stress.
Word stress shows what syllable or syllables in a word are stressed. e.g,
useful is stressed on the first syllable, mistake is stressed on the second
syllable, advantageous has a primary stress on the third syllable and a
secondary stress on the first syllable.
Rules of Word Stress:
Stress on words in English is not tied to any particular syllable for the entire
vocabulary. Stress pattern of the each word in English has to be learnt
individually. There are certain groups of words which follow some regular
stress patterns. These patterns allow so few exceptions that they may be
regarded as rules of word stress. These rules are based on the kinds of
prefixes and suffixes or word endings.
Rules Related to Suffixes:
There are two types of suffixes.
1) Inflexional Suffixes:
These are those suffixes when attached towards do not change their parts of
speech or grammatical status. Another feature of these suffixes is that once
they have been attached to a word, no other suffix can be added. Such
suffixes do not affect the stress of words.
2) Derivational Suffixes:
Derivational suffixes are those which we use to derive new words. They may
or may not change the part of speech of the word to which they are attached.
Some derivational suffixes do not affect the stress while others do.
a) The following derivational suffixes do not affect the stress.
b) The derivational suffixes that bring change in stress are given below.
Millio 'nair engi 'neer
addres 'see Cava 'lier
ru 'pee tru 'stee
Sentence stress indicates what words in a sentence are stressed. Look at the
Examples of sentence stress
1) It’s a `door.
2)`Take a `book out of the `bag.
3) The `dog is a `faithful `animal.
4) `Bring me a `pencil.
Which Words are stressed and which are not?
In English speech some words are stressed and others are not. In normal
speech all nouns, demonstrative and interrogative pronouns, main verbs,
adjectives and adverbs are stressed. The pronouns, prepositions,
conjunctions, helping verbs are not stressed.
1) Her complexion is fair. (Adjective)
2) Who is there? (Interrogative)
3) I went to Multan. (Main Verb)
4) Ahmad is a good boy. (Noun)
5) Marry went there quickly. (Adverb)
Simple Complex Compound
Types of Complex Words
Words made from a basic word form (which we call the stem), with
the addition of an affix (Prefix + suffix)
e.g. reopen, Opened.
Which are made of two (or more than two) independent English words
e.g. Ice-Cream, Arm-Chair
In 1st type
(3 possible effects)
The affix itself receives the primary stress
(e.g. semi + circle=semicircle, ÈsùÎ kl` ---ÈsemisùÎ kl` )
The word is stressed just as if the affix were there
(e.g. pleasant, Èplezn` t, unpleasant, ÃnÈplezn` t)
The stress remains on the stem, not the affix, but is shifted to a
e.g. magnet, ÈmQ t, magnetic, mQ netI k.
It is observed that there are a number of suffixes in English language but
some are more productive.
Productive means that by using those suffixes, we generate hundreds of new
As we already have discussed that English has borrowed a
lot of words from other languages which made things so
Example # 1
e.g. if we consider word “audacity”.
It is not easy to divided it into Stem + affix.
Person + al
Person + al + ity
Personal + ity