Learn about the stress of short three-syllable phrases. How do they match up with three-syllables words?
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In this American English pronunciation video, we’re going to go over stress patterns in three-syllable sentences.
I recently did a video on three-syllable words. There, we talked about the importance of rhythmic contrast. It’s true in sentences as well. In this video, we’re going to compare sentences and words that have the same amount of syllables: three syllables. Many of my students think, when they see a bigger word, that they have to rush though it, because it’s only one word. But that doesn’t really matter. A three-syllable word should take about as much time as three-syllable sentence.
First, let’s look at the stress patterns. If the stress is on the the first syllable, the pattern is DA-da-da. LONG-short-short. DA-da-da. Example words: rational, popular. Example sentence: Stay awhile. DA-da-da. Go for it. One thing my most advanced students work on, is making the short syllables extremely short. So it’s not ‘awhile’, it’s awhile. Low in pitch, really fast, quieter: stay a while [3x]. Go for it, for it, for it. Go for it.
These sentences are about the same length as the words, and they feel the same rhythmically: stay a while, rational, go for it, popular. DA-da-da. So, the word ‘popular’ can take as much time as the three words ‘go for it.’
Another pattern is stress on the middle syllable. da-DA-da, example words: Decided. Example. Example sentences: I want it, I saw you. Again, make the unstressed syllables as short as you can: I want it, I, I, it, it. I want it. Notice I’m dropping the T in the word ‘want’. Native speakers will sometimes do this when the T follows an N. I saw you, I, I, you, you. I saw you. da-DA-da. Again, these words and sentences feel the same rhythmically. Decided. I want it. Example. I saw you. da-DA-da.
And the last stress pattern is da-da-DA, stress on the last syllable. Everyday, eighty-one. Sentences: Let me go. da-da-DA. Let me go. let me, let me. Let me go. Come again. da-da-DA. Come a, come a, come a, GEN. Come again. da-da-DA. Again, these words and sentences have the same rhythmic feel. Everyday, let me go, eighty-one, come again.
Rhythmic contrast is a very important part of the character of American English. I encourage you to think about it as you study pronunciation. As you learned in this video, words can take as long as sentences, so don’t rush longer words. Give them as much time and shape as you would a sentence with the same stress pattern. And as you get more and more comfortable with the concept of rhythmic contrast, work on making your short syllables extremely short, flatter, and quieter. It will make a beautiful difference in your pronunciation.
That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English