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Intonation is the rhythm of speech. Rhythm is based on stress. Because American English pronunciation was standardized in order to to be useful in mass media and global business, we stress words that represent important information. Important information often goes in this order:
2. Verbs (especially near pronouns, which means the nouns are understood)
Of course, there can be many exceptions in different situations. For instance, maybe time is most important to you--you may stress the adverb instead of the noun.
pronunciation or preparing to speak publically, choose
about two-four words per sentence that are most important to
the meaning of what you need to say. Stress those words and then also
To deliver important information, you need to pause before or after the stressed word. You can often pause before words like "that" and "which," prepositions (in, on, at, for, around, etc.) and conjunctions (and, but, or) as well. Pausing gives the listener time to fully hear the important words.
Practice reading the passage below. Stressed syllables of 2-3 syllable words are in capital letters. Stressed words are in bold print. A slash ( / ) indicates a good place to pause. Of course, you always pause for commas and periods.
My friend / has a new job. He is WORking / as an IT specialist / for the new bank / that Opened / down the street. He's exCIted / because he gets to creATE / his own poSItion / since the bank is new. The pay is good too. That's LUcky / because his wife / recently lost her job. She has been apPLYing / all over town / for the past two months / and HASn't had any luck. Now she's going to take one month off, reLAX, and then try again.
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