What is Word Stress?

What is Word Stress?

When a word has more than two syllables in English, one syllable will receive more importance than the others when it is pronounced. This is the syllable that receives the primary word stress. This means that, compared to the other ones, the vowel sound of that syllable will be slightly:

  • louder,
  • longer,
  • at a higher pitch.

For example, the word chapter is stressed on the first syllable. The first syllable, chap-, will be louder and slightly longer than the last syllable –ter. The intensity of each syllable in this example can be illustrated as follows:

What is Word Stress

This graphs represents the intensity of the word chapter, illustrating the difference between the stressed and unstressed syllable.

Listen to the following words and pay attention to which syllable in the word is stressed:

  • comPUter
  • GOvernment
  • enVIronment
  • DICtionary
  • beHAVior
  • VIolence
  • SENtence


Check how much you remember with this quick exercise.

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