Word stress and suffixes 2

In words with the following suffixes, main stress is usually on the syllable immediately before the suffix: -ial, -ic, -ion, -ive, and -ity.


For example:
‘editor – edi’tor-ial
‘atmosphere – atmos’pher-ic
ac’celerate – accele’rat-ion
‘instinct – in’stinct-ive
‘generous – .gene’ros-ity
di’verse – di’vers-ity

Note: In words ending -ative, stress is usually on the same syllable as in the root word.
For example:
in’vestigate – in’vestig-ative
‘speculate – ‘specul-ative

Many words with these suffixes can have stress shift.
For example:
He faces proseCUtion.   but:   He’s a PROSecution WITness.

When a word ends with one of the consonants t or s and the suffix –ion, this is how it is pronounced:

-tion is pronounced

  • /tʃ ə n/ after the letter s:  suggestion, digestion
  •  /ʃ ə n/ after other letters:  education, adoption

-sion is pronounced

  • /ʃ ə n/ after a consonant: extension, comprehension
  • /ʒ ə n/ after a vowel: decision, persuasion

-ssion is pronounced /ʃ ə n/:  admission, expression

In nouns and adjectives ending with the suffixes –ant, –ent, –ance, or –ence, stress placement depends on the spelling of the syllable before the suffix (the pre-suffix syllable).

  • If the pre-suffix syllable ends with a single vowel letter (V) or a single vowel letter plus a single consonant letter (V-C), stress usually goes on the syllable before the pre-suffix syllable if there is one:
  • ‘ignorant (V-C)        ‘variant (V)             ‘fraudulent (V-C)
    con’tinuance (V)     ‘reference (V-C)    ‘ambience (V)
  • If the pre-suffix syllable has any other spelling, then stress is usually on the pre-suffix syllable itself:
    ap’pearance (V-V-C)  corre’spondent (V-C-C)   con’vergence (V-C-C)
  • If the pre-suffix syllable ends with the letter i and the root word ends with the letter y in a stressed syllable, the stress is usually on the pre-suffix syllable:
    com’ply – com’pliance     re’ly – re’liant

Some of these words ending with the suffixes –ant, –ent, –ance or –ence have a different stress placement from the root:
ig’nore – ‘ignorant             re’fer – ‘reference

while others have the same stress placement:
con’tinue – con’tinuance          ap’pear – ap’pearance

Notice that the suffix -ment doesn’t usually change the stress pattern in the root:


a’gree – a’greement        ‘govern – ‘government
although a common exception is: ‘advertise – ad’vertisement

Exercises
Exercise 1
You will hear some short definitions. After each definition press ‘pause’, choose from the box and write the word that it relates to. When you press ‘play’ again you will hear the correct answer.
Repeat it and then continue in the same way.

cooperative      prosecution      allergic      hostility
photographic    impulsive          editorial    speculation
familiarity

EXAMPLE:
Having an allergy.       __allergic__

1. __________
2. __________
3. __________
4. __________
5. __________
6. __________
7. __________
8. __________

Key

(Canada)
1.  (being hostile to something) hostility
2.   (when someone is prosecuted) prosecution
3.   (being willing to cooperate) cooperative
4.   (a newspaper article giving the editor’s opinion) editorial
5.   (when people speculate to make a profit) speculation
6.   (acting on impulse) impulsive
7.   (being familiar with something) familiarity
8.   (to do with photography) photographic

The word with a suffix which is an exception to the rule given above is ‘co’operative’. (It doesn’t have stress on the syllable immediately before -ive.)

Exercise 2

Write the words from the box in the correct column according to the pronunciation of -tion, -sion, or -ssion.

accommodation    celebration    combustion    comprehension
congestion    depression    digestion    erosion    exhaustion
explosion    expression    invasion    revision    suspension

/tʃ ə n/(e.g. suggestion) /ʃ ə n/ (e.g. education) /ʒ ə n/ (e.g. decision)
accomodation

Now listen and check your answers. Then say the words aloud.

/tʃ ə n/(e.g. suggestion) /ʃ ə n/ (e.g. education) /ʒ ə n/ (e.g. decision)
combustion
congestion
digestion
exhaustion
accommodation
celebration
comprehension
depression
expression
suspension
erosion
explosion
invasion
revision

Exercise 3

Underline the syllable which you think has the main stress in the following words.

resident    performance    defiant    convergence
excellence    correspondent    assistant    maintenance
coincidence    informant    acceptance    insistence
reference    applicant    significance

Now listen and check your answers. Then say the words aloud.


One of these words is an exception to the rules given above. Which is it?

resident
performance
defiant
convergence
reference
excellence
correspondent
assistant
maintenance
applicant
coincidence
informant
acceptance
insistence
significance

The exception is “excellence’. The syllable before the suffix –ence ends in ‘ell’ (V-C-C) and so stress would be on this syllable if the second rule were followed. (Note that “excellent’ is
also an exception.)

Exercise 4

Decide whether the words in exercise 3 have the same stress pattern as their root word (write S) or a different stress pattern (write D).

EXAMPLES:
resident (D) – (‘resident – re’side)
performance (S) – (per’formance – per’form)

Now listen to the root words and check your answers.

Key

re’side
per’form
de’fy
con’verge
re’fer
ex’cel
corre’spond
a’ssist
main’tain
ap’ply
coin’cide
in’form
ac’cept
in’sist
‘signify

The words with the same (S) stress pattern as their root are:
de’fiant (de’fy)
con’vergence (con’verge)
as’sistant (as’sist)
in’formant (in’form)
in’sistence (in’sist)
corre’spondent (corre’spond)
ac’ceptance (ac’cept)

The words with a different (D) stress pattern from their root are:
‘reference (re’fer)
‘excellence (ex’cel)
‘maintenance (main’tain)
‘applicant (ap’ply)
co’incidence (coin’cide)
sig’nificance (‘signify)

Word stress and suffixes

Some words are made up of a root  and a suffix:

dangerous   =    root –> danger  +  ous –<  suffix
commercial   =    root –> commerc(e)  + al –<  suffix

In some words with suffixes, the stress stays on the same syllable as in the root. Compare:

‘danger and: ‘dangerous

In other words, the suffix changes the stressed syllable. Compare:

‘commerce and: com‘mercial

Suffixes which don’t usually change the stress pattern in the root word include -able, -age, -al, -er, -ful, -less, -ness, -ous and -fy. For example:

‘comfort – ‘comfortable
per‘cent – per’centage
e‘lectric – e‘lectrical
‘amplify –‘amplifier
re‘gret – re‘gretful
re‘gard – re‘gardless
‘foolish – ‘foolishness
di‘saster – di‘sastrous
‘beauty – ‘beautify

Exceptions with -able and -al include:

ad‘mire‘admirable
pre‘fer‘preferable
‘medicine – me‘dicinal
‘agriculture – agri‘cultural

Note that before the suffixes -ious, -ulous, -orous and -eous main stress usually comes in the syllable before the suffix:

‘industry – in‘dustrious
‘mystery- my‘sterious
‘miracle – mi‘raculous
‘carnivore – car‘nivorous
ad‘vantage – advan‘tageous
‘outrage – out‘rageous

Some suffixes themselves usually have the main stress. These include -ee, -eer, -ese and -ette.

For example:


absen‘tee
refu‘gee
engi‘neer
mountai‘neer
Japan‘ese
Nepal‘ese
cigar‘ette
di‘skette

Exceptions include: ‘omelette, ‘etiquette, em’ployee (although less commonly we use employ’ee).

Note: Some people say ‘cigarette.

Words with these suffixes can often have stress shift:

She’s japanESE.
but: She’s a JAPanese JOURnalist.
He’s a refuGEE.
but: We saw photos of REFugee CHILdren.

Exercise 1

Complete the sentences with pairs of words the box. You should also mark the stress.

‘outrage – out’rageous
my’sterious – ‘mystery
re’gardless – re’gard
agricultural – ‘agriculture
percentage – per’cent
di’saster – disastrous ‘
industry – in’dustrious
‘medicine – me’dicinal

EXAMPLE:  The herb is used for __me’dicinal__  purposes, although it isn’t usually thought of as a __‘medicine__.

1 The journey was a ______ ; in fact, the whole vacation was ______.
2 The decision was an ______- quite _______ . I was appalled.
3 _________ of his mistakes, the president continues to be held in high _______.
4 Workers in the steel ________ are generally skilled and _______ .
5 The Democrats’ lead is now eight _______ points, and has risen three _________ in the last week.
6 Her _______ disappearance was never explained, and her whereabouts remain a _________ until today.
7 The region is mainly ________ land and most people here still work in ________ .

Now listen and check your answers. Then say the sentences aloud, paying attention to the stress in the words you have written.

(United States) (BRIT: /hɜːb/; US: /ɜːrb/)

(Example: Note also that ‘medicine’ is usually pronounced with 2 syllables /ˈmɛd sɪn/, but may be pronounced with three in slow, careful speech /ˈmɛd ɪ sɪn/.)

1 di‘saster – di‘sastrous
2 ‘outrage – out‘rageous
3 Re‘gardless – re‘gard
4 ‘industry – in‘dustrious
5 per‘centage – per‘cent
6 my‘sterious – ‘mystery
7 agri‘cultural – ‘agriculture

Exercise 2

This speaker is talking about the difficulty of getting cars repaired. Focus on the words ending with the suffixes -able and -al (in bold). Listen and tick (✓) the words which follow the rule of having the same stress pattern as their root.

You hear about the poor quality of car repairs so often
nowadays. You just can’t find dependable (✓)
mechanics, and the problem seems to be universal (no tick).
For example, the other day I was having problems
starting my car, so I took it to a reputable ( ) garage.
At least I’d heard it was quite reliable ( ). The people
there seemed quite professional ( ), and they said it
looked like just a minor mechanical ( ) problem.
They said it would cost about €100, which seemed
quite acceptable ( ). But when I picked it up, they’d
badly scratched the paintwork. They apologised, and
said it was accidental ( ) and offered to re-spray it, but
whether they’ll do a good job is debatable ( ).

Now listen and check your answers. Then say the sentences aloud, paying attention to the stress in the words you have written.

(Jamaica)

Words with the same stress pattern as their root:

de‘pendable (de‘pend)
re‘liable (re‘ly)
me‘chanical (me‘chanic)
ac‘ceptable (ac‘cept)
pro‘fessional (pro‘fession)
de‘batable (de‘bate)

Words with a different stress pattern from their root:

uni‘versal (‘universe)
‘reputable (re‘pute)
acci‘dental (‘accident)

Exercise 3

Here are some extracts from a radio news programme. Underline the syllable in each word in bold that you think is likely to be made prominent. Remember, some of the words in bold are likely to have stress shift.

EXAMPLE: An aircraft that crashed three years ago in the Andes has been found by mountaineers.

1 A report on the problem of absentee landlords is to be published today.
2 Five thousand volunteer helpers are to be recruited for the next Olympic Games.
3 Mandarin and Cantonese are the most widely spoken languages in China.
4 The government is considering a ban on roulette.
5 There has been an outbreak of cholera among Sudanese villagers.

Now listen and check your answers. Then read the extracts aloud.

1  ‘absentee * 2  ‘volunteer * 3  Canton’ese 4  rou‘lette 5  ‘Sudanese *

* indicates stress shift.

Word stress and prominence

Let’s consider two terms that are related but different: stress and prominence. Most dictionaries which give the pronunciation of words also indicate which syllable(s) have stress.
For example, we can see that ‘party‘ and ‘remember‘ have stress on only one syllable:

party /ˈp ɑː t i / remember / r ɪ ˈm e m b ə /

and that ‘controversial‘ and ‘kindergarten‘ have stress on two syllables:

controversial /ˌk ɒ n t r ə ˈv ɜː ʃ l̩ / kindergarten /ˈk ɪ n d ə ˌɡ ɑː t n̩ /

When a word is used in conversation and emphasised, one of the stressed syllables is made prominent. In a one-stress word this is the stressed syllable, and in a two-stress word it is usually the syllable with main stress. Prominent syllables can be shown by using capital letters:

I’m going to a PARty. I can’t reMEMber.
It was controVERsial. She goes to KINdergarten.

Prominence can move to the secondary stressed syllable in a word like ‘controversial’ when it is followed by a word with another prominent syllable, particularly when the first syllable of the following word is prominent:

She gave a CONtroversial ANswer.

This is sometimes called stress shift. Stress shift can only happen in words where a secondary stress comes before main stress. Here are some more examples:

ˌunder’stand – I UNderstand EVerything.
ˌdisap’pointing – It was a DISappointing OUTcome.

Other words which often have stress shift include:
• ˌalto’gether, ˌinde’pendent, ˌindi’stinct, ˌmedi’ocre, ˌsatis’factory, ˌuni’versity, ˌweek’end, ˌworth’while.
• some place names which have main stress on the last syllable, such as: ˌBer’lin, ˌMontre’al.
• -teen numbers – ˌthir’teen, ˌnine’teen; and two-part numbers – ˌforty-‘five, ˌseventy-‘eight.

Note : Some other words with secondary stress rarely have stress shift. For example:
ˌapproxi’mation, ˌcorre’spondence, ˌinde’cision, proˌnunci’ation.
For particular emphasis or contrast, syllables other than those with main or secondary stress can be made prominent:

‘hopeful
A: I agree with you that it’s HOPEless.
B: No, I said it was hopeFUL.

re’ported
A: Apparently, Kim’s been dePORTed.
B: No, he’s been REported.

Exercises:

Exercise 1
Are these one-stress words (write 1) or two-stress words (2)? Capitalize the main stressed syllables and underline the secondary stressed syllables. Use your dictionary if necessary.

EXAMPLES      exPERiment (1)     thermoSTATic (2)
1 occasional ( )              4 cosmopolitan ( )     7 electronic ( )
2 supplement ( )           5 pedestrian ( )           8 spectacular ( )
3 temperamental ( )   6 incoherent ( )           9 documentary ( )

Now listen, check your answers and repeat the words.

1 ocCAsional (1 )              4 cosmoPOlitan (2 )     7 elecTROnic ( 2)
2 SUPPlement (1 )           5 peDEStrian (1)           8 specTACular ( 1)
3 temperaMENtal (2 )   6 incoHERent (2)           9 docuMENtary ( 2)

Exercise 2
Underline the syllable you think is most likely to have prominence in the words in bold. In which two of these words is stress shift not possible?


EXAMPLES
We used to live near the Berlin Wall.
She’s got a job in Berlin.

1 I’m working on my pronunciation.
2 It was just a routine job.
3 The film was made for propaganda purposes.
4 The region has a Mediterranean climate.
S Next month she’ll be sixteen.
6 There was a satisfactory outcome.
7 The country was declared independent.
8 I love living next to the Mediterranean.
9 It cost sixteen euros.
10 The book was just political propaganda.
11 The operation was quite routine.
12 They appointed an independent judge.
13 The result was satisfactory.
14 I’m doing a pronunciation course.

Now listen and check your answers. Then say the sentences aloud.
*indicates stress shift.
1 pronunciation
2 routine *
3 propaganda
4 Mediterranean *
5 sixteen
6 satisfactory *
7 independent
8 Mediterranean
9 sixteen *
10 propaganda
11 routine
12 independent *
13 satisfactory
14 pronunciation

The words which do not have stress shift are ‘pronunciation’ and ‘propaganda’.

Exercise 3
Listen and underline the syllable that has main stress in these words:

handbag      concise       disarming        footbridge         lifelike   paintbox      subjective          tablecloth

Answer:

handbag      concise        disarming      footbridge        lifelike     paintbox          subjective     tablecloth

Now use the words to complete these conversations. Then underline the syllable in the word that you think is likely to be prominent.

EXAMPLE A: So we have to take the old footpath ?
B: No, we take the old __footbridge__.

1 A: So you thought the work was precise ?
B: No, I said it was _______ .
2 A: You’ve lost your handbook, have you ?
B: No, I’ve lost my ________ .
3 A: Yes, I thought the performance was lifeless, too.
B: No, I said I thought it was ________ .
4 A: I didn’t think his findings were very objective.
B: No, they were very ________ .
S A: Does the tabletop need washing?
B: No, the ________ .
6 A: I’ve brought you the paintbrush you asked for.
B: No, I wanted my ________ .
7 A: Did you say the country’s rearming ?
B: No, it’s ________ .

Now listen , check your answers and repeat the corrections.

(Speaker A = South Africa)
1 concise
2 handbag
3 lifelike
4 subjective
5 tablecloth
6 paintbox
7 disarming

Consonant clusters within and across words

Consonant clusters also occur within words. For example:

Clusters with… 2 consonant sounds 3 consonant sounds 4 consonant sounds
escape
approach
dislike
address
important
complete
control
expert
translate
hundred
abstract
expression
upstream
exquisite
(ˈe k s k w ɪ z ɪ t)
excruciating

Note: Some clusters found within words can also be found at the beginning of words (dislike – slow), at the end of words (important – lamp), or both (escape – Scotland/ask); but others can’t (abstract,
invisible).

When a word ending with a consonant or consonants is followed by a word beginning with a consonant or consonants, a new consonant cluster across words is formed. These can be particularly difficult to pronounce when they come within a speech unit without a pause.

// it’s an elm tree//
// there’s a children’s playground//

When consonant clusters are divided by a pause, they are often easier to pronounce:
// if Tom can’t take you to the film// try Mike//
// there’ll be three suitcases// two of Joan’s// plus my own//

All the consonant clusters within the speech units in this conversation are underlined. Listen and follow notes. Some clusters are simplified with sounds left out or changed to make them easier to pronounce.


chap09_01

Words that commonly go together in phrases and compounds are generally said within speech units. Consonants at the word boundaries are usually run together in a cluster. For example:

Clusters with… 2 consonant sounds 3 consonant sounds 4 consonant sounds
civil servant
cough medicine
electric fence
full marks
language lab
vacuum cleaner
flash flood
asking price
present simple
passive smoking
television screen
winning streak
false friends
lunch break
film credits

Exercise 1
Underline all the consonant clusters within the words in this text (i.e. not at the beginning or end of words). Note that some words have two consonant clusters. An example is given at the beginning of the text.

When I started playing badminton, I was sixty and I hadn’t done any strenuous exercise for almost twenty years. But after just a few months I’d won the over-fifties national championship and an international competition. My husband thinks I’m crazy and that I’ll injure myself. But I’ve found a number of advantages in taking up a sport. I feel much healthier, and it’s important to be active at my age. And meeting new people has improved my social life. So I’ll carry on playing until I get too old.

Now check your answers and read the text aloud, focusing on the pronunciation of words with underlined consonant clusters.

When I started playing badminton. I was sixty and I hadn’t done any strenuous (/ˈs t r ɛ n j ʊ ə s /) exercise (/ˈe k s ə s aɪ z /) for almost twenty years. But after just a few months I’d won the over-fifties
national championship and an international competition. My husband thinks I’m crazy and that I’ll injure myself. But I’ve found a number of advantages in taking up a sport. I feel much healthier, and it’s important to be active at my age. And meeting new people has improved my social life. So I’ll carry on playing until I get too old.

Exercise 2
Listen and repeat phrase 1 in column A with a slight pause between the two speech units. Then listen and repeat phrase 1 in column B, making sure you run the words together without a pause. Then do the same for phrases 2-10 (notice that the underlined clusters are the same in columns A and B).


chap09_02

Some underlined consonant clusters in column B are simplified. Try to make the same simplifications when you repeat them.

1 // she’s a freelance translator// (no simplification)
2 // the president spoke next// (/t/ is shortened)
3 // she wore a silk dress// (/k/ is shortened)
4 // it looked green to me// (/t/ is left out)
5 // it’s on the first floor// (/t/ is left out)
6 // he speaks three languages// (no simplification)
7 // lift your arms slowly// (‘…s s…’ make one lengthened /s/ sound)
8 // there was a cold breeze// (/d/ is left out)
9 // what’s that unpleasant smell// (/t/ is left out)
10 // it’s huge// (no simplification)

Exercise 3
Match a word from box A with a word from box B to make compound nouns. Say the compounds aloud, making sure you run the words in the compound together.

 

A B
blood
direct
general
golf
lamp
first
passive
rock
lost
speech
time
tourist
club
property
music
poisoning
class
shade
smoking
speech
strike
therapist
trap
travel

EXAMPLE: blood poisoning (/d/ in ‘blood’ is pronounced like /b/)

Listen, check your answers and repeat the compounds, making the same simplifications of consonant clusters where these occur.

The most likely answers are:
direct speech (/t/ is left out)
general strike (no simplification)
golf club (no simplification)
lamp shade (no simplification)
first class (/t/ is left out)
passive smoking (no simplification)
rock music (/k/ is shortened)
lost property (/t/ is left out)
speech therapist (no simplification)
time travel (no simplification)
tourist trap (/t/ is left out)

Consonant clusters at the end of words

There are many more combinations of consonant sounds possible at the end of English words than at the beginning. There can be up to four consonant sounds in a final consonant cluster:

Words with.. 2 final consonants 3 final consonants 4 final consonants
honest /st/
jump /mp/
wrapped /pt/
helped /lpt/
next /kst/
crisps /sps/
prompts /mpts/
glimpsed /mpst/
texts /ksts/

Some final clusters with three or four consonants can be difficult to pronounce even for native English speakers, so in some words these are commonly simplified. For example, the middle consonant of the clusters /kts/, /mps/, /mpt/, /nts/, /ndz/ and /skt/ is hardly heard or sometimes even left out.

products → products /ˈprɒdʌks/
camped → camped /kæmt/
hands →  hands /hænz/
 jumps → jumps /dʒʌmps/
clients → clients /ˈklaɪənts/
asked → asked /ˈɑːst/
 Notice also:
 twelfth → twelfth /twefθ/  fifths → fifths /ˈfɪθs/  or fifths /ˈfɪfs/

Leaving final consonants out of consonant clusters at the end of words can cause misunderstanding, and you should avoid this. For example, say:
product (not: product)       jump (not: jump)     hand (not: hand)

In particular, avoid leaving out /z/ or /s/ in plurals and third person singular verb forms, and /t/ or /d/ in –ed verbs and adjectives:
jobs (not: jobs)         sleeps (not: sleeps)
laughed (not: laughed)      curved (not: curved)

Don’t be tempted to add vowels to consonant clusters in order to make them easier to say, as this can also cause misunderstanding. You should –

  • avoid adding an extra vowel (usually /ɪ/ or /ə/) between consonants:
    watched (not: watchɪd) health (not: healəth ) dogs (not: dogəs)
  • avoid adding an extra vowel (usually /ə/ or /u:/ ) at the end of the word:
    last (not: lastə) announce (not: announceə) attempts (not: attemptsu:)
  • avoid adding an extra vowel at the end of an adjective, as this can sound like a comparative form:
    fast (not: fastə because it sounds like ‘faster’)
    damp (not: dampə because it sounds like ‘damper’)

Exercises
1. How many final consonant sounds – 1, 2, 3 or 4 – do the words in the box have when they are spoken slowly and carefully? (Note that the number of consonant sounds may be different from the number of consonant letters.) Put the words in the appropriate row:

accents     against     aspects     attempts     axe     catch     contexts diamonds     ears     earth     grasped     laughed     ledge      next     risked     sculpts     stamps      tempts     touched

1 final consonant sound:
____________________________
2 final consonant sounds:
____________________________
3 final consonant sounds:
accents /nts/____________________________
4 final consonant sounds :
attempts /mpts/____________________________

Check your answers by listening and saying the words.
Answers
chap08_01

2. Listen to some of the words from the same exercise used in conversation. Some final clusters are simplified. Underline the words which are simplified and show which sound is left out or reduced.

EXAMPLES
It was a long jump, but he risked it. – k (the /k/ sound is left out)
He helped us a lot. (no simplification)

1 It’s my turn next.
2 It’s a recording of regional accents.
3 Don’t forget to buy some stamps.
4 I’ve always been against it.
5 The question has a number of aspects.
6 She loved diamonds.
7 It was taken out of context.
8 They grasped it easily.

Answers
Exercise 2
1 next (no simplification)
2 accents t
3 stamps (no simplification)
4 against (no simplification)
5 aspects t
6 diamonds d
7 context (no simplification)
8 grasped (no simplification)

3. Listen and underline the word you hear.


EXAMPLE
I accept / accepted the award gratefully.
1  I couldn’t go on without more paint / pain.
2  The company has some innovative designers / designs.
3  I couldn’t go faster / fast in my old car.
4  The factory makes trays / trains.
5  We wore heavy boots with thick, ridged / rigid soles.
6  They’re one of Brazil’s main exports / exporters.

Answers 
Exercise 3 (Australia)
1 paint   2 designers   3 faster   4 trains   5 ridged   6 exports

4. Anna failed her test to become a newsreader for her local English
language radio station. Look at the transcript of the news item that
she read. Then listen to the news being read clearly and correct the
words that Anna pronounced wrongly.

The police thin (think) the rose on the south coat will be pack when
the seven Felton Pop Festival beginners neck weekend. Lass
year more than 10,000 pop fan pack into the feel where the
festival was hell. There is simpler accommodation on a nearby
farm, but most people will camper in small tense.

Answers Exercise 4
The police think the roads on the south coast will be packed when the seventh Felton Pop Festival begins next weekend. Last year more than 10,000 pop fans packed into the field where the festival was held. There is simple accommodation on a nearby farm, but most people will camp in small tents.

Consonant clusters at the beginning of words

Combinations of consonant sounds [consonant clusters) can be difficult to pronounce for some learners. English words can start with a vowel, or one, two or three consonant sounds.


Compare:
am    ⇒   ram   ⇒   cram   ⇒   scram

Here are the possible two-consonant clusters at the start of English words:

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In addition, the following two-consonant clusters are possible with /s/:

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Here are the possible three-consonant clusters at the start of English words:


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Note: Some consonant clusters marked x in these tables are used in a few uncommon words, for example- schwa (the name of the sound /ə/) and people’s names.
In order to be understood clearly you should –
avoid changing a consonant in a cluster to a different consonant.
For example: saying ‘present’ for ‘pleasant’ or saying ‘queue’ for ‘crew’
avoid leaving out one of the consonant sounds.
For example: saying ‘poblem’ for ‘problem’ or saying ‘foo’ for ‘few’
avoid adding an extra vowel between consonants.
For example: saying ‘tewin’ for ‘twin’ or saying ‘faree’ for ‘free’
avoid adding an extra vowel at the beginning of the word.
For example: saying ‘estop’ for ‘stop’ or saying ‘escream’ for ‘scream’

EXERCISE 1
You will hear some short definitions. After each definition, press ‘pause’, tick (✓) the word you think is being defined and say it aloud. When you press ‘play’ again you will hear the correct answer.
Repeat it and then continue in the same way. The answers are given below the last exercise.


EXAMPLE ‘to cook in hot oil’ fly / fry ✓
1 string / sting
2 clean / queen
3 strain / stain
4 Spain / sprain
5 slum / sum
6 pain / plain
7 slip / sip
8 kick / quick
9 scare / square
10 grass / glass

EXERCISE 2
You will hear some words. After each word, press ‘pause’ and underline the correct definition. When you press ‘play’ again you will hear the correct answer.

EXAMPLE: ‘stray’
to not leave / to move away from the intended route

1 to produce a continuous light / to increase in size
2 to shake with fear / a sweet food
3 to move through water / attractively thin
4 dried stalks of wheat / another word for shop
5 watery liquid in your mouth / to divide into two
6 activity done for enjoyment / to give money for something
7 a border around a picture / burning gas
8 not mixed / not rich

EXERCISE 3
Listen and underline the sentence you hear.

EXAMPLE:
The band isn’t very popular. / The brand isn’t very popular.
1 Just across the road. / Just cross the road.
2 The cat was following its tail. / The cat was following its trail.
3 Before that I had tried a motorbike. / Before that I had to ride a motorbike.
4 It’s Michael’s twin. / It’s Michael’s to win.
5 He fell into a deeper sleep. / He fell into a deep sleep.
6 I thought it was a terrible slight (= insult). /1 thought it was a terrible sight.
7 Just blow your nose. / Just below your nose.
8 This one is a pear. / This one is spare

Try building words by adding consonant sounds. Start with a vowel sound, and then add one
consonant sound at a time before or after the vowel, in any order, to build new words.
(Note: (i) a consonant sound may consist of more than one letter; (ii) don’t add any new vowel sounds.)
Then say aloud the words you have written. For example:
/eɪ/: ache => lake => flake => flakes (2 consonants before the vowel and 2 after)
/aɪ/: rye => rife => rifle => trifle => trifles (2 before and 3 after)
/i:/: sea => seem => scheme => scream => screamed (3 before and 2 after)
Now try with other vowels (eə,  ɪə,  ɑː,  u:,  etc.).

KEY:

EXERCISE 1 (United States)
1 (a piece of thin cord) string
2 (a woman who rules a country) queen
3 (an injury to a muscle) strain
4 (a country in southern Europe) Spain
5 (a poor area in a city) slum
6 (a feeling when you have been hurt) pain
7 (to drink a small amount) sip
8 (done with great speed) quick
9 (to make someone frightened) scare
10 (a hard transparent material) glass

EXERCISE 2 (Canada)
(grow) to increase in size (NOT glow)
(quake) to shake with fear (NOT cake)
(swim) to move through water
(NOT slim)
(store) another word for shop
(NOT straw)
(spit) watery liquid in your mouth
(NOT split)
(pay) to give money for something(NOT play)
(flame) burning gas(NOT frame)
(pure) not mixed (NOT poor)

EXERCISE 3
1 Just cross the road.
2 The cat was following its trail.
3 Before that I had to ride a motorbike.
4 It’s Michael’s twin.
5 He fell into a deeper sleep.
6 I thought it was a terrible sight.
7 Just below your nose.
8 This one is a pear.

Pronunciation in slow and fast speech 2

In fast speech, sounds that are found in words spoken slowly may be missed out.  Listen and notice how the highlighted sounds are missed out in this conversation extract:

A
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Bchap05_02

C

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It is not essential to make these changes in your own speech in order to be understood, although they can help your speech sound more natural and fluent.

Exercises

Listen to these sentences as many times as you need. First you w i l l hear them said slowly and carefully and then at a more normal speed for conversation. Listen and notice the differences you hear in the ‘conversation’ versions. Try to imitate the speakers.

chap05_04

1 Has he been to see you since Saturday ?

2 I asked her for the best tickets they’d got left.

3 Do you mind moving along a bit?

chap05_05

Listen to these conversations as many times as you need and fill in the spaces. How is the pronunciation of each missing word different from its slow form ?


chap05_06

He  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _       _ _ _ .
B: That   _ _ _ _ _ _   terrible. Why   _ _ _ _     _ _   do that?
A: Maybe _ _    _ _  jealous  _ _ _ _ _ _  she’s    _ _ _ _ _    so well .

chap05_07a
2      A:   _ _  know  _ _ _   _ _  coming?

B: Everyone   _ _ _ _ _ _   Cathy.
A: What time  _ _ _ _  they be here ?
B: _ _ _ _ _  six…. so well.

chap05_07b

3 A:  _ _ _   _ _ _ coming out    _ _ _    _ _ _  a walk ?
B: Okay.  _   _ _ _ _   _ _ _   my coat.
A:  _ _ _   _ _ _ _   hat.     _ _ _      _ _ _        _ _ _ _      _ _ _ _   gloves, too.

chap05_07c

Pronunciation in slow and fast speech

ln different contexts we change the speed at which we speak.

We are likely to speak more slowly, for example, when we are talking to a large audience, or when we are talking about an unfamiliar or difficult topic .

We are likely to speak more quickly, for example, in conversation, when we are talking to friends or relatives, or when we are talking about routine or familiar topics.

Let’s look at some of the changes in pronunciation that take place in fast speech when compared with slow, careful speech. These include linking sounds, leaving out sounds and changing sounds.

Speech is broken up into units, often with a pause between them. Within these speech units, words are linked together smoothly.  In fast speech in particular, these units may be quite long and the words spoken quickly. Compare the units (marked with // below) in these examples of slow and fast speech:

Slow speech: A nurse is explaining how to make a sling:
// this goes under the arm// and then over the shoulder// all the time// make sure you support the arm// talk to the patient// and find out what position// is most comfortable for them//

Fast speech: Three friends are in a Chinese restaurant:
A: // is anyone having a starter or not// or are we going straight to the main course//
B: // I’m going to go straight to the main course//
C: //yeah//
B: // but I might have an extra portion of something// you never know//
A: // do they do nice sweets here//
C: //I think it’s just lychees//
A // what’s lychees//
B: // they’re the funny little white ones// aren’t they//
C: // that’s right// I’m not terribly keen on them//

Notice how the words are run together:

// or are we going straight to the main course//
// but I might have an extra portion of something//

Because words within units are run together, it can sometimes be difficult to understand them. However, one or more word in each unit is emphasised and may be said more clearly than others. It is important to focus on these, as they usually carry the most important information in the unit.

Listen to these speech units from the restaurant conversation again and notice how the words with
syllables in large capital letters are emphasised:
//I’m going to go STRAIGHT to the MAIN course//
//I think it’s just lyCHEES//
//they’re the FUNny little WHITE ones//
// that’s RIGHT//

Here are some long speech units taken from fast speech. Listen to each and repeat.

example: What are you doing tomorrow at about half past twelve?
1. I didn’t know whether they were leaving or not.
2. She said she’d never seen anything like it before.
3. They don’t seem to be getting on too well.
4. As long as you don’t mind us coming in late.
5. We should be able to get there in a couple of hours.

First, listen to an extract from a business meeting. Then repeat six single speech units taken from the discussion. If possible, repeat them without looking at the units written out below. Try to run the words in the unit smoothly together.

(Speaker C = Canada)
A: So why did you go for Jensens// to supply the machines//
B: Well at the time// I thought they were the best available//
c: And we’ve done business with them before//
A: But that was years ago//
B: Yes// but the management hasn’t changed at all!/
c: And they’ve still got a pretty good reputation//
A: But you now feel that the product isn’t up to scratch//
B: No// they’ve been pretty poor// to be honest//
A: So you think// we ought to be looking for a different supplier//
B: Yes// I do// And for compensation from Jensens//
c: Shall I contact the lawyers about it//
A: Yes, please// We’ll leave that to you//

1  // so why did you go for Jensens//
2  // and we’ve done business with them before//
3  // and they’ve still got a pretty good reputation//
4  // that the product isn’t up to scratch//
5  // they’ve been pretty poor//
6  // shall I contact the lawyers about it//

Listen to these speech units taken from the same conversation. Identify the one word, or sometimes two words, that are emphasised in these units.
EXAMPLE // to supply the machines//
1 // but that was years ago//
2 // but the management hasn’t changed at all//
3 // to be honest//
4 // we ought to be looking for a different supplier//
5 // we’ll leave that to you//

 

key
1 // but that was years ago//
2 // but the management hasn’t changed at all!/
3 // to be honest//
4 // we ought to be looking for a different supplier//
5 // we’ll leave that to you//

Intonation

Accents: Varieties of English

Although we commonly talk about ‘English pronunciation’, obviously not all speakers of English pronounce it in the same way. Even between countries where English is the first language of the majority of the population there are considerable differences, and we can distinguish between the pronunciation of ‘British English’, ‘American English’, ‘Australian English’, ‘South African English’, and so on.

Across these varieties of English, there may be differences in how vowels and consonants are pronounced,how words are stressed, and in intonation. For example, listen and notice differences between standard British English (Br) and American English (US) pronunciation in these sentences (you will hear British English first):

audio 1


chap01_01

 

Within Britain and the US there are also many regional accents. For example, listen and notice important differences in pronunciation in these sentences, said first by a speaker of ‘BBC English’ and  then by a speaker from the city of Birmingham in England (you will hear BBC English first):

audio 2

chap01_02

audio 3

Here is a text read aloud first by a British English speaker and then an American English speaker. Listen as many times as you need and note differences in pronunciation that you observe, focusing on the underlined words. A few are done for you.

chap01_03

You will hear four more people talking about what they enjoy doing in their spare time. They are from northern England, Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland.

script audio 3

Speaker 1

I don’t get a lot of time to myself these days, but if I have a couple of hours to spare then I go down to the tennis club. I’ve just joined a tennis club near me and we’ve moved to a new house and er the tennis courts are right outside the back of my garden, so I just literally walk down and go through the gate and spend a couple of hours knocking balls about.

Speaker 2 (United States )

When I’ve got some free time urn I like to read. Usually I avoid the latest fiction and look for novels or novelists that I’ve always known about and wanted to read. But occasionally I just stroll through a bookshop and sometimes it’s just the cover of a book that makes me grab it and take it home.

Speaker 3 (Canada)

When I’ve got spare time I like to go to the lake. It’s about a twenty minute drive and when I get there I go water skiing. I just love water skiing when the weather’s good. And afterward if I’ve got enough energy, I pick Saskatoon berries on the lane behind the cabin. And later on in the week I make some pies.

Speaker 4 (Australia)

My favourite thing to do on a sunny day is to go to the beach. It takes about an hour from my house. I have to get the train and a bus, but it’s worth it. Lots of my friends live near the beach, so it’s always the perfect way to catch up and enjoy the sunshine.

Speaker 5 (South Africa)

One of my favourite things to do when I’ve got a bit of spare time is to go fishing with my friends. Er we get a bit of tackle together, the fishing rods, pile it all into the back of a four-by-four and we head up into the mountains. There’s some wonderful streams up there, well stocked with trout, and carp, and bream. We normally take a bit of a picnic up, you know, some bread rolls, and some ham and cheese, and it’s just a nice day out.

 audio 4

script audio 4

chap01_04

audio 5

You will hear four more people talking about what they enjoy doing in their spare time. They are from northern England , Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland .

script audio 5

1 (northern England)
When I get a day off, I like to go up into the Yorkshire Dales. These are sort of hills, er about twenty miles from where I live. And I’ll er walk through the day. I’ll set off while it’s still dark and walk for about eight hours. And at the end of that finish up in a village somewhere and have a nice meal.
Here are some of the differences you may have noticed between this accent and BBC English:
– the vowel in ‘I’, ‘like’, ‘nice’ (/aɪ/ in BBC English) is more ‘open’, beginning with a
sound close to /ɑː/ (as in ‘car’ )
– the vowel in ‘walk’ (/ɔː/ in BBC English) is said almost as two vowels /ɔː/ + /ə/
– the ‘r’ sound in ‘for about’ is said with a slight tap of the tongue behind the top teeth

2 (Scotland)
I live in the country and I’m I’m quite lucky because where I live is sort of on the top of um a range of low, flat hills. So it’s quite windy. On good days, I like to take my children out and we go and fly kites. The children have got little kites, because obviously if it’s too windy and with a big kite it would be really too, too much for them, they couldn’t control it. Um but they they thoroughly enjoy being out just just in the fresh air.
Here are some of the differences you may have noticed between this accent and BBC English:
– ‘r’ is pronounced where it would not be in BBC English ( in ‘sort’, ‘for then’, ‘air’ ) and said with a flap of the tongue
– the vowel in ‘like’, ‘fly’, ‘kite’, ete. (/aɪ/ in BBC English) begins with a sound close to ‘ee’ (/i:/)
– the vowel in ‘low’, ‘so’, ‘go’ (/əʊ/ in BBC English) is pronounced more like a simple
vowel, close to /ɔː/

3 (Wales)
In my spare time I really like visiting gardens. Usually, the gardens of big houses. And at every time of the year there’s something different to see. The spring, of course, is the best time, when everything’s coming into bud, and then later in the summer into full flower. It’s really wonderful. And even when it’s raining, you can still get great pleasure visiting gardens.
Here are some of the differences you may have noticed between this accent and BBC English:
– the vowel in ‘year’ (/ɪe/ in BBC English) is pronounced with more rounded lips
– the vowel in ‘gardens’ (/ɑː/ in BBC English) is more ‘open’, beginning with a sound
close to /æ/ (as in ‘cat’ )
– the /r/ in ‘raining’ and ‘really’ is said with a flap of the tongue

4 (Northern Ireland)
Usually, ’cause em I’m working during the week er and sometimes on a Saturday as well the
only day off that I have would be a Sunday. Er and on Sunday we like to get up early, make a big breakfast and if the weather’s good er I take my kids for a long walk in the country. Em we go off er with our little fishing rods and sometimes er go down to the local stream and with a net and try and er catch a few tiddlers or something like that.
(Note: A tiddler is a very small fish.)
Here are some of the differences you may have noticed between this accent and BBC English:
– the vowel in ‘usually’ and ‘during’ (/u:/ in BBC English) is pronounced rather like the
vowel in ‘good’ (/ʊ/)
– the vowel in ‘off’ (/ɔ/ in BBC English) is pronounced with more rounded lips
– the vowel in ‘stream’ (/i:/ in BBC English) is pronounced almost as two vowels /i:/ + /ə/

Marco in NYC

I am publishing some videos that could be helpful to practice your English pronunciation. You can watch the short clip about Marco in NYC and then practice some of the lines from the script. Have fun!

The first episodes are:
Episode 1: Customs
Episode 2: Baggage Claim
Episode 3: The Poetry Competition
Episode 4: The Rake’s Cafe
Episode 5: What to Say
Episode 6: Poetry
Episode 7: Marco and Ruby
Episode 8: A Letter to Ruby
Episode 9: A Real Friend
Episode 10: A Misunderstanding
Episode 11: An Invitation to a Party

Resources for learning the English language