Lesson Five: It's Important To Stress The Correct Syllable In A Word

The main reasons why speaking English is so hard

This special pronunciation section will explain to you why English is hard to speak correctly and give you some help on improving your pronunciation. These are the main reasons why English is so hard. There is a lesson for each one.

Note that the pronunciation examples are in American English accent. In the last lesson you will find American and British English examples.

These lessons are sponsored by: EyeSpeak English

Another reason that English is difficult to speak is how words are stressed. For words of more than one syllable, some syllables are always accented or stressed more than others.

Here is an example: 'carry'

In this word the first syllable 'car' is more stressed than 'ry'. If you were to pronounce it with the second syllable stressed, like:
ca RRY

This would sound very strange.

You may be wondering how to you actually make a syllable sound stressed. Here is how:


Your pitch should be higher for a stressed syllable


A stressed syllable should be longer than an unstressed one


A stressed syllable is usually louder than an unstressed one

Vowel sounds

The vowel sound in a stressed syllable is normally more pronounced, your tongue is further away from the middle of your mouth than an unstressed one. Here is an example:
'Company'      com pa ny

For this word, 'com' is stressed and 'pa' is not stressed. For this reason, the vowel in 'pa' is not stressed, and when you say this syllable, your tongue is in the middle or your mouth. This neutral vowel sound is called 'schwa'

Please compare the correct pronunciation to the incorrect one:

Company comPAny

Here are some examples of common words with the stress shown for you. Stressed syllables are shown in bold

ba lance Hun dred Ex change Val u a ble
Con si der Ur gent Com pu ter E very thing