Skip to main content

Word Accent Made Easy

Have you ever heard a native British speak. Next time you hear them, listen carefully to what they say. Notice how they gobble up some sounds and give more importance to some other sounds. That is what makes a native speakers speech different from ESL learners from other countries.

Consider the word “frequent”. You just hear the first part of the word (also known as a syllable) and the rest is left unstressed. Now, the problem is that we do not have fixed rules for word accent in English. We got to learn it the hard way. But I can provide here some basic tips that usually (but not always) work.

Tip1:Some sounds are almost always given stress. The vowel sound “ee” for example is stressed in words like “frequent”, “street”, “naughty” etc. Other such sounds are “aa” as in “carpet”.

Tip 2: Some consonant sounds are so prominent that we cannot simply gobble them up. Sounds like “d” (just try to say “digest”) and “g” (just say  “gauge”). Other such sounds are “t” and “k”, “b” etc.

Tip 3: Some sounds are almost always left unstressed. Meek sounding “h”, “y”, “w”, “v”, “s”, “f” etc fall into this category.

Tip 4: The stress pattern of a word may change if a suffix or prefix is added to the word. For example the “photo” is stressed in the beginning, whereas “photograph” has stress nearer to “-graph”. Even here the stress patterns are generally governed by the rules given above.

Try This: Try to form a hierarchy of sounds with the most prominent sounds on the top and the least prominent sounds at the bottom of the pyramid. Make a chart of this.

These are very same basic rules. Try if these rules work in compound or very long words. The best way to learn word accent is to go through each word individually through a pronunciation software.

Last Words: I have found that writing blogs is not an easy thing, especially when you want to use the phonetic alphabets. Pro-bloggers please advise. In the near future I will be showing a chart like the one that I have described above.

Author: Jims Varkey
-English Quick Tips Page


Post a Comment

Speak out your heart!

Popular posts from this blog

Learning to speak English by watching movies: does it really work?

I’ve heard many English gurus give this insane piece of advice: watch some Hollywood flick to learn how to speak in English. But is that so simple. I don’t think so.

 Here is what you can and cannot achieve by watching movies:


1) If you already have some idea about English, your KNOWLEDGE or UNDERSTANDING of the English language can improve by watching movies. You can get a general idea of phrases, pronunciation of individual words and most importantly, intonation.

 2) Your vocabulary might improve a bit- say 10 words per movie. But even an average English class can fetch you those many words. Reading simple articles can give you a much better result.

 3) Common phrases and usages are easy to acquire by watching a movie. Learning that otherwise would require much more time.

 4) You can also understand how the natives use the language and how it is different from the English that we have learnt from schools.


1) Fluency. It will NOT improve beyond a point. Fluency is a …

English Pronunciation Quote

Author: Jims Varkey

Software for online teaching/learning

It is been a while since I took up teaching English online, and often people ask me about the software that I use for communication. While they think of some exotic software, my answer is quite a dull one: Google Drive and Skype.

Why Skype? Why I can't I use any other collaboration/online education software.

Why I give a thumbs up to Skype:
Its popularity: Everyone knows something about it. Skype is installed in many systems to get in touch with their relatives. So, it is not huge technical leap for them.

Skype is intuitive. My borther's 5 year old son uses it to call me. Nothing more to be said on that. It stores chat text, so it is always easier to go back to what you have taught.It automatically reconnects after a break in the net connection.And the biggest advantage: Crystal clear voice. It is very important for teaching pronunciation and intonation.

Now the thumbs down:

It gobbles up bandwidth. Even if you cut the video, which I use only for rare occasions, call dropping …