Prefixes and Word Stress (2)

In some words with prefixes, the prefix itself is stressed. Most of these words are shown in dictionaries as having main stress ( ‘ ) on the prefix and, in some cases, secondary stress ( ˌ ) later in the word:

subway-> /ˈs ʌ b   w eɪ /
superpower->/ˈs uː   ˌp ə   p aʊə /

Most words like this are nouns and include:

‘co-driver ‘co-writer ‘co-star
 ‘counteratˌtack ‘counterˌclaim ‘counterpart
 ‘hyperspace ‘hypertext ‘hyperlink
‘interface ‘interchange ‘interplay
 ‘subˌsection ‘subtext ‘subsoil
‘superˌmarket ‘superˌstructure ‘superˌmodel
‘underˌcurrent ‘undergrowth ‘underwear

Exercise 1

Here are the titles of some research papers given at a conference on education. Look at the words in bold (some are given above) and underline the syllable that you think will be prominent.
EXAMPLE: Why do children become hyperactive?

unit15_02

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

(United States)
1 co-education
2 subconscious
3 interface
4 underachievers; subtitles
5 Superstars; counteroffensive (counteroffensive is also possible)
6 supernatural; undercurrents
7 co-writers; hypertext
8 international; counterparts

In these words the syllable with main stress usually has prominence in discourse:
We took the SUBway.
I’m just off to the SUpermarket.

However, other words with these prefixes have main stress on a syllable after the prefix. Most words like this are adjectives and include:

,co-edu’cation co’operate ,co-e’xist
.counterin’telligence .counterproductive .counter’mand
ˌhyper’active ˌhyper’sensitive ˌhyper’critical
ˌinter’changeable ˌinterconti’nental ˌinter’active
ˌsub’conscious sub’standard ˌsub’tropical
ˌsupernatural ˌsupera’bundant ˌsuperim’pose
ˌunder’cover ˌunder’line ˌunder’age

Exercise 2

Match each word 1-7 with a word from the list a-g. Matched words must have the same number of syllables and follow the same stress pattern. Words 1-7 are from above.

EXAMPLE 1-C (1 co-exist and C interlinked both have three syllables with main stress on the last syllable – (o o 0)

1 co exist
2 counterproductive
3 interchangeable
4 hyperspace
5 substandard
6 superstructure
7 undercover
a cohabit
b counterclockwise
c interlinked
d hypersensitive
e subcommittee
f superstore
g underdeveloped

Now listen and check your answers. Then listen again and repeat the words.


2  g (ooo0o)  counterpro’ductive -underde’veloped
3  d (oo0oo)  inter’changeable – hyper’sensitive
4  f (0oo) ‘hyperspace – ‘superstore
5  a (o0o) sub’standard – co’habit
6  e (0ooo) superstructure – ‘subcommittee
7  b (oo0o) under’cover – counter’clockwise

In these words the syllable with main stress usually has prominence in conversation:

They have to learn to co-eXIST.
The climate here is subTROPical.

… but prominence may go on the syllable with secondary stress in some cases.

In many words with a prefix, there is secondary stress on the prefix, with main stress later in the word:

ˌimpre’cise
ˌdisa’gree
ˌhyper’active

When these words are used in conversation they can have stress shift, with the prefix made prominent rather than the main stressed syllable. Compare:

Her answer was impreCISE.
but:
She gave an IMprecise ANswer.
He’s hyperACtive.
but:
I work with HYperactive CHILdren.

unit15_01
He disaGREED. but: He DISagreed STRONGly.

Here are some more words with prefixes which commonly have stress shift:
ˌdecom’pose, ˌde’code; ˌdiso’bedient, ˌdisre’spectful; ˌimma’ture, ˌimpo’lite;
ˌmis’place, ˌmis’spelt; ˌrecon’sider, ˌrepro’duce; ˌunacceptable, ˌunsuccessful.

Exercise 3

Focus on the words in bold (some are given above), and underline the syllable you think is likely to have prominence. Which words have stress shift (that is, prominence on the prefix), and which do not?

EXAMPLE:  He was sacked for unacceptable conduct. (has stress shift)
1 She was wearing impractical shoes.
2 The government has promised to review hospital funding.
3 He tends to use rather impolite language.
4 There were too many misplaced passes in the football matc

h.
5 The police have prosecuted a number of dishonest landlords.
6 The cream is very good for dehydrated skin.
7 He undressed quickly.

Now listen and check your answers. Then listen again and repeat the sentences.


impractical
review
impolite *
misplaced *
dishonest
dehydrated *
undressed

* indicates stress shift

Prefixes and Word stress

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

dislike

prefix dis like root

Common prefixes include: de-, dis-, il-, re-, un-.
Sometimes the root can be used as an independent word (e.g. like), but other roots cannot (e.g. renounce and denounce, but not ‘nounce‘).

In some words the prefix is unstressed and is only made prominent for particular contrast. Compare:


A: Do you enjoy driving?
B: No, I really disLIKE it.

A: I thought you LIKED driving.
B: No, I really DISlike it.

(In phonetic transcriptions, words like this are usually shown as having only one (main) stressed syllable:
dislike /d ɪ ‘s l aɪ k /)

Other words like dislike include:

de’grade de’flect de’fraud
 di’scolour di’scourage di’sintegrate
 il’legal il’legible il’literate
 re’claim re’fresh re’place
un’easy un’pack un’wise

Other words with these prefixes have secondary stress on the prefix:
ˌdecom’pose     ˌrecon’sider     ˌunaf’fected

Exercise 1
Complete the sentences with words from the table above. Underline the syllable that you think will have the main stress in these words.

EXAMPLE
They’re going to ___replace___ most of the workers with machines.
1 It’s _______ to forecast the weather too far ahead.
2 I haven’t had time to _______ since I got back from holiday.
3 We have to _______ her from working too hard.
4 Parking on a double yellow line is _______ .

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

Exercise 2
Write the same words from exercise above (including the example) in the spaces in these conversations. Again, underline the syllables that you think will have the main stress in these words.

EXAMPLE
A: Would it be a wise investment?
B: No, I think it would be very ____unwise___.

1 A: Did you say you’ve misplaced your keys?
B: No, I said I have to _______ them.
2 A: I suppose it’s legal to bring alcohol into the country?
B: No, it’s completely _______ .
3 A: Did it take long to pack your case?
B: Ages, but it won’t take long to _______ it.
4 A: Did your teacher encourage you to do the maths course?
B: No, she tried to _______ me from doing it.

Now listen, check your answers and say the B parts aloud.


In words with de– and re– prefixes, the prefix is usually pronounced /d ɪ / and /r ɪ / if it is unstressed and /d i: / and /r i:/ if it has secondary stress. Compare:


de’grade /d ɪ /   but:ˌ  decom’pose /d i: /
re’claim / r ɪ /   but:ˌ    recon’sider /r i: /

A few words with de– and re– prefixes are usually pronounced with an unstressed / ɪ / in the prefix when they are used as a verb and a stressed / i: / in the prefix when they are used as a noun. Compare:

Interest is likely to decrease, / d ɪ ‘k r i: s /
but: There has been a decrease / ‘d i:  k r i: s / in interest.

Some words beginning re– have the same spelling but a different stress and meaning depending on whether re– means ‘again’ or not. Compare:


recover /ˌr i: ˈk ʌ v ə / (= cover again) – /r ɪ ˈk ʌ v ə/ (= get well)
recount /ˌr i: ˈk aʊ n t/(= count again) – /r ɪ ˈk aʊ n t/ (= describe)
reform /ˌr i: ˈf ɔː m / (= form again) – /r ɪ ˈf ɔː m/ (= improve)
remark /ˌr i: ˈm ɑː k / (= mark again) – /r ɪ ˈm ɑː k/ (=comment)
resort /ˌr i: ˈz ɔː t/(= sort again) – /r ɪ ˈz ɔː t/ (= turn to)
resign /ˌr i: ˈs aɪ n/ (= sign again) – /r ɪ ˈz aɪ n/ (= give up a job)

Note: When re– means ‘again’, the words are sometimes spelt with a hyphen, e.g. re-cover, re-count.

Exercise 3
Choose words from above to complete the pairs of sentences. Use the same word in each pair. Think about the pronunciation of the words you have written and say the sentences aloud.

EXAMPLE
a The band hasn’t played together for years, but they’ve said they’ll ___reform___ for the charity concert. (/ˌr i: ˈf ɔː m / = form again)
b The government are going to ___reform___ health care. (/ r ɪ ˈf ɔː m / = improve)

1 a She’d been seriously ill and it took her a long time to _____ .
b The chair was badly stained, so we had to _____ it.
2 a He hasn’t agreed yet to _____ for the club for the next baseball season.
b If working conditions don’t improve soon, she’s threatening to _____
3 a When the phone rang, I forgot how many books I’d already put in the box, so I had _____ to them.
b He liked to _____ his wartime experiences to anyone who’d listen.

Now listen and check.

Put the following verbs in the correct column according to the usual pronunciation of the de or re prefix. Some are done for you.

debug   deflate   deform   delineate   demote   deregulate   descend  destabilise   devalue   reapply   reflect   recharge   reconsider   refresh   relapse   replace   resit   restructure   review

/ d i:- / / d ɪ- / / r i:- / / r ɪ- /
debug deflate reapply reflect

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

Word stress and suffixes 3

Some words don’t change their stress pattern when a suffix is added to the root word, but do change the pronunciation of the vowel in the main stressed syllable. Compare:

ex ‘treme – ex ‘tremity            /i:/                  /e/
de’rive – de ‘rivative        /aɪ/              /ɪ/

The following table shows a number of possible vowel changes. The main stressed syllable and the pronunciation of the vowel in this syllable are shown:

=> /ɪ/
/aɪ/’bible-‘biblical/ɪ/
/aɪ/ type – ‘typical /ɪ/
/aɪ/ wise – ‘wisdom /ɪ/

=>/ɒ/
/ɔː/ ex’plore – ex’ploratory /ɒ/
/əʊ/ know – ‘knowledge /ɒ/

=>/æ/
/eɪ/ ‘nation – ‘national /æ/
/eɪ/ de’fame – de’famatory /æ/
/eɪ/ sane – ‘sanity /æ/
/eə/ com’pare – com’parative /æ/
/eə/ de’clare – de’clarative /æ/
/ɑ:/ ‘drama – ‘dramatise/æ/

=>/e/
/i:/ com’pete – com’petitive /e/
/i:/ inter’vene – inter’vention /e/
/i:/ ob’scene – ob’scenity /e/

=>/ʌ/
/u:/ as’sume – as’sumption /ʌ/
/u:/ pre’sume – pre’sumption /ʌ/

In some words, as well as a change in the pronunciation of the vowel in the stressed syllable, there is also a change in the pronunciation of the consonant(s) that follow it.


/aɪt/ ig’nite – ig’nition  /ɪʃ/
/aɪn/ sign – ‘signature /ɪgn/

/u:s/ pro’duce – pro’duction, pro’ductive /ʌk/
/u:s/intro’duce – intro’duction, intro’ductory /ʌk/

In other words like this, there is a change in the pronunciation of the vowel in the stressed syllable and also the spelling  of either this vowel and/or the consonant(s) that follow it:


/aɪd/ col’lide – collision /ɪʒ/
/aɪd/ di’vide – di’vision /ɪʒ/
/aɪd/ pro’vide – pro’vision /ɪʒ/
/aɪb/ de’scribe – de’scription, de’scriptive /ɪp/
/aɪb/ pre’scribe – pre’scription, pre’scriptive /ɪp/
/aɪb/ sub’scribe – sub’scription /ɪp/
/i:v/ de’ceive – de’ception, de’ceptive /ep/
/i:/re’peat- re’petitive /e/
/a:/ex’ample – ex’emplary /e/
/e/ re’tain – re’tention /e/
/eɪ/ ex’plain – ex’planatory /æ/
/aɪ/ ap’ply – ap’plicable /ɪ/

Words that do change their stress pattern when a suffix is added to the root also commonly change their pronunciation in one or more syllable:


pro ‘nounce – pronunci ‘ation
/ə/ /aʊ/                /ə/ /ʌ/

pre’fer – ‘preferable
/ɪ/ /3:/         /e/ /ə/

Exercises

Exercise 1
Which of these words have main stress on the same syllable as their root word? Write S (Same) or D (Different).

EXAMPLES    familiarise (S) (fa’miliarise – fa’miliar) –  cancellation (D) (cancel’lation – ‘cancel)

intervention ( )   security ( )   advantageous ( )   Canadian ( )   consumption ( )
maturity ( )   stupidity ( )   application ( )   sanity ( )   normality ( )
delivery ( )   precision ( )   preference ( )   sincerity ( )   diversion ( )

Now listen and check your answers.

(Australia)  familiarise (S) (fa’miliarise – fa’miliar) –  cancellation (D) (cancel’lation – ‘cancel)

intervention = S (inter’vene)
se’curity = S (se’cure)
advantageous = D (ad’vantage)
Ca’nadian = D (‘Canada)
con’sumption = S (con’sume)
ma’turity = S (ma’ture)
stu’pidity = D (‘stupid)
application = D (a’pply)
‘sanity = S (sane)
nor’mality = D (‘normal)
de’livery = S (de’liver)
pre’cision = S (pre’cise)
‘preference = D (pre’fer)
sin’cerity = S (sin’cere)
di’version = S (di’vert)

Exercise 2
Look again at the words in Exercise 1 with main stress on the same syllable as their root.
Underline the ones which have a different vowel sound in the main stressed syllable from that in the main stressed syllable in their root.

EXAMPLE intervention (intervention /e/ – inter’vene /i:/)

Now listen again to the words in Exercise 2 and check your answers.

The words with a different vowel sound from their root are:
intervention /e/ (intervene /i:/)
consumption /ʌ/ (consume /u:/)
sanity /æ/ (sane /eɪ/)
precision /ɪ/ (precise /aɪ/)
sincerity /e/ (sincere /ɪə/)

The words with the same vowel sound as their root are:
familiarise /ɪ/ (familiar /ɪ/)
security /ʊə/ (secure /ʊə/)
maturity /ʊə/ (mature /ʊə/)
delivery /ɪ/ (deliver /ɪ/)
diversion /3:/ (divert /3:/)

Exercise 3
Complete each pair of sentences using the pairs of words below.

collide-collision  /  compete-competitive  /  divide-division
example-exemplary  /  nation-national   /  subscribe subscription

EXAMPLE
a  It costs £10 a year to __subscribe__ to the sports centre.
b  I’ve taken out an annual __subscription__ to the magazine.

1 a   We’ll ____ the money between us.
b    Brighton football club was promoted to the first ____ .
2 a   It’s difficult to stay ____ in business.
b    He was much faster and I couldn’t ____ with him.
3 a    Rod broke his leg in the ____ .
b    They say the comet is going to ____ with Saturn.
4 a    She set a good ____ to her younger sister.
b    Their behaviour was ____ .
5 a   The first of May is a ____ holiday.
b   Practically the whole ____ watched the eclipse.

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


1   a divide b division
2   a competitive b compete
3   a collision b collide
4   a example b exemplary
5   a national b nation

Exercise 4
Write the words from the box in the correct column according to the vowel sound in the main stressed syllable of their root word. There are three words in each column.

commercial   applicant     speciality      financial    symbolic
evolution       accidental    historic          decision    demonstration
influential      modernity   calculation  magnetic    medicinal

Vowel sound in
main stressed
syllable of root
/ɒ/ (as in stop) /ɪ/ (as in sit) /aɪ/ (as in drive) /æ/ (as in black) /e/ (as in pen)
*commercial
evolution
modernity

*Their roots all have /ɒ/ in their main stressed syllable: commerce, evolve, modern

Vowel sound in
main stressed
syllable of root
/ɒ/ (as in stop) /ɪ/ (as in sit) /aɪ/ (as in drive) /æ/ (as in black) /e/ (as in pen)
commercial
(commerce)
evolution
(evolve)
modernity
(modern)
symbolic
(symbol)
historic
(history)
influential
(influence)
applicant
(apply)
financial
(finance)
decision
(decide)
accidental
(accident)
calculation
(calculate)
magnetic
(magnet)
speciality
(special)
demonstration
(demonstrate)
medicinal
(medicine

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:

chap07_01

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

chap07_02
Here are the possible three-consonant clusters at the start of English words:


chap07_03

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

chap05_03

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

Resources for learning the English language