Stress Patterns

English Grammar Index


Stress Patterns :


Here are some examples of stress patterns of simple words.


All words of two syllables are stressed either on the first syllable or on the second one.

Examples :

  • Answer

  • Any

  • Camel

  • Honest

  • Iron


    There are few words stressed on the second syllable.

    Examples :

  • A’bove

  • a’go

  • ca’nal

  • be’lieve

  • a’gain

  • re’ply


    Words of three or more syllables, in addition to a primary stress, may have a secondary stress as well. A secondary stress, is in between the primary stress and no stress.

    Examples :

  • prepo’sition

  • exami’nation

  • funda’mental

  • responsi’bility


    These are some words which when used as nouns or adjectives are stressed on the first syllable, but when used as verbs are stressed on the second syllable.

    Examples :

  • ‘absent(adj) - ab’sent, (v)

  • ‘conduct (n) - con’duct (v)

  • ‘decrease (n) - decrease (v)

  • ‘insult (n) - in’sult(v)

  • ‘object (n) - ob’ject(v)

  • ‘present(n) - pre’sent(v)

  • ‘rebel(n) - re’bel(v)

  • ‘subject (n) - sub’ject (v)


    This shows that stress has meaning in English.


    Words with weak prefixes are stressed on the root and not the prefix.

    Examples :

  • a’borad

  • a’head

  • a’loud

  • be’low

  • be’side

  • re’duce


    Words ending in –ion are stressed on the last syllable but one.

    Examples :

  • appli’cation

  • compo’sition

  • determi’nation

  • qualifi’cation


    The following two syllable suffixes are stressed on the syllable immediately preceding.

    Examples :

  • Ity : a’ctivity, elec’tricity, e’quality

  • Ian : li’biarian, elec’trician, poli’tician

  • Ial : ‘arti’ficial, es’sential, of’ficial

  • Ially : es’sentially, of’ficially

  • Ious : ‘anxious, in’dustrious, la’borious


    Some guidelines for making stress :


    1. Mono syllable words : Words having a single syllable.

    2. Disyllable words : Words having two syllables.

    3. Poly syllable words : Words having three or more syllables.


    Dissyllabic Words :


    Monosyllable Words : 'go, 'saw, 'house, 'work, 'lose

    Stress on The First Syllable : ‘always, ‘women, ‘public, ‘answer, ‘honest

    Stress on The Second Syllable : a’bove, de’feat, be’lieve, a’gain, re’ply


    Trisyllabic Words :


    Stress on The First Syllable : ‘beautiful, ‘citizen, ‘memory, ‘popular, ‘arrogant

    Stress on The Second Syllable : de’liver, con’ductor, in’volvement, ex’periment, com’panion

    Stress on The Third Syllable : abdi’cation, edu’cation, examina’tions, civili’sation, recol’lection


    MODEL :

    together.....to’gether

    avenue.....‘avenue

    timidityti.....’midity

    collection.....co’llection

    pragmatic.....prag’matic

    surround.....su’rround

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