Stress patterns in American English

We noticed that most accent reduction programs do not stress stress.  Having the proper intonation and stress patterns is as important to being understood as learning how to pronounce the sounds of American English. Many foreign speakers learn English but speak it with the intonation and stress patterns of their native language.

The rhythm of a language is its music. It’s a timing pattern among syllables. English uses an alternation between stressed and unstressed syllables. A syllable can be stressed by stretching the vowel, by saying it louder and using a higher pitch. Try this word TAble. Can you hear how the first syllable (TA) is higher in pitch, louder and longer than the second syllable (ble)?

If you’re not sure what syllable to stress, dictionaries are always a good source. is a great site to go to because they will actually pronounce the word for you.

It’s not only important to stress the right syllable in words but you also have to stress the right word in a sentence to get your intended message across. Generally speaking we stress content words such as nouns, verbs, and adjectives in sentences because they carry the most information.

If intonation and stress is stressing you out, check out our program “I’ve Got Rhythm” on the Products page.