Lesson Six: Pitch And Loudness Change The Meaning Of Sentences

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

In English the following sentence can mean two things:
'It's over there'

This can be either an answer to a question such as
Q: 'Where is the cup?'
A: 'Its over there.'

Or it could be a question:
Q: 'It's over there?'

This is just a different way of saying 'Is it over there?'

The difference between these two sentences is that for a question, your pitch RISES at the end of the sentences, while for a statement, it FALLS.

Have a listen to these two sentences again:

Question It's over there? Pitch rises at the end
Statement It's over there. Pitch falls at the end

Now listen to these two sentences:
'How do you put this together'
'How DO you put this together'

You can probably hear the difference, but what do they mean and how are they different?

The second sentence is different to the first, because the second word 'do' is stressed. It sounds stressed because it is louder than the other words.

Let's imagine that you have just bought a kitset barbeque and are trying to put it together. You would say 'How do you put this together?' like in the first recording when you are just starting to take it out of its box. However imagine that you have spent two hours now trying to put it together and you just cannot figure out the diagrams and instructions. You are getting frustrated and annoyed, and now you would say

'How DO you put this together?'

Accenting 'DO' means that you really DO NOT know how to put the barbeque together and want to make this clear to anyone listening.