Stress patterns are one of the key features in creating a natural sounding English speaking voice. The variable stress pattern of English can often prove challenging for Finnish speakers who are used to the regular first syllable stress of Finnish. Here are some tips for improving your pronunciation.
1. Let’s look at some challenging stress patterns:
Where would you place the stress in the underlined words?
- ”He recorded the details in the official records ”.
"The contrast was huge when we contrasted the statistics”
”She contested the results of the contest”
The correct stress pattern is as follows:
- ”He reCORDed the details in the official REcords ”.
”The CONtrast was huge when we conTRASTed the statistics”
”She conTESTed the results of the CONtest”
2. The same words with different stresses?
Although we may be tempted to call this just another insanity of the English language there is in fact a method in the madness.
If you look carefully at the words with the stress on the first syllable we can note that they are all nouns. While if you look carefully at the words with the stress on the second syllable we can note that they are all verbs.
This is in fact a standard rule of thumb in two syllable words:
– Noun: stress on the first syllable
– Verb : stress on the second syllable
3. But reCORDed has three syllables?
The rule applies to the base infinitive of the verb REcord (ennätys) versus reCORD (tallentaa)
Tense and plural endings are not included.
So always disregard –ed, -ing, and –e/s endings. Then apply the stress according to whether the word is used as a noun or a verb.
4. Rule of thumb : An object is stressed first, an action second!
If you are interested in a more practice check out our English language stress practice here.
Or check out our English Pronunciation Course.
For further reading on this topic I would highly recommend: English Pronunciation in Use by Cambridge University Press