English Pronunciation Pod 17

Podcast 17: Syllable Stress in Words of 3 or More Syllables (Part I):

by Charles Becker


Saturday January 3rd, 2009

Syllable Stress in Words of 3 or More Syllables (Part I):
This podcast teaches you how to find the stress in words which have three or more syllables.

The Focus of this Week’s Podcast:

In this week’s podcast we’re going to learn how to determine syllable stress in words of three or more syllables.
Sometimes when you’re studying or reading in English, you might encounter a very long word with three or more syllables and you might wonder, “where does the stress fall in this word? How am i supposed to know where the stress is?”
In this weeks podcast, we’re going to begin to learn how to determine where the syllable stress falls in these long multi- syllabic words- words of three or more syllables.

General Rule: In order to determine the syllable stress of words of three or more syllables in English, you want to look at the suffix of the word. The suffix is the ending, the end part of a word. The suffix of a word will act as a signal.

By recognizing the suffix of the word, you wil be able to determine
where the stress falls.

Today’s podcast will focus on a specific group of suffixes.
These suffixes have no effect on the stress of the root form of the word.

Example: suffix <ful> has no effect on the stress of root form.

root: beauty: stress falls on the first syllable (long vowel and higher on pitch on first syllable)

Add suffix <ful> to beauty- beautiful

The stress stays on the same first syllable because <ful> is one of those suffixes which has no effect on the syllable stress.

*There are many other suffixes which have an effect on the syllable stress.They’re going to shift it- move it. We’re not going to look at those suffixes today.
As you can imagine, the rules concerning those suffixes are a bit more difficult. We’ll look at those suffixes in future podcasts.

Exercise: Suffixes which do not change the syllable stress of the root.
Please listen and repeat the first two examples.
On the third example, you will hear only the root of the word. You will add the suffix to that root and say the complete word using proper syllable stress.:

Suffix: <able>

believe… believable… depend… dependable… understand …


beauty… beautiful… power … powerful… suspense…


invest … investment… develop… development… establish ….


happy… happiness… forgive… forgiveness… ugly…

suffix:<ed> (simple past tense)

prevent …prevented …mention… mentioned… appreciate…

suffix:<er>(comparative form)

funny… funnier … happy… happier… fancy…

suffix:<ing> (present continuous and gerunds)

decide… deciding… finish… finishing… calculate…

Today’s lesson is just the beginning of our discussion of syllable stress for words with three or more syllables.

In future lessons, we’re going to look at some suffixes which affect the syllable stress of the root.
Until then, be sure to practice these suffixes which we learned today. You can try finding other words which contain these suffixes. Find the root of the word, add the suffix and notice how the syllable stress stays in the same place.

You Need More Training!

If you’re looking for more training with syllable stress, I recommend Best Accent Training mp3s- a full English Pronunciation course in mp3 format.

Any questions, comments or suggestions ? Contact us at:  contact@englishpronunciationpod.com

Thank you and see you next time!