Unstressed Syllable

Unstressed Syllable : Grammar and Spelling Tips

Many words are easy to misspell because of the way in which their stress pattern affects their pronunciation. When they occur in unstressed syllables, the different vowel sounds merge into a sound like
uh or er. You may then find it difficult to remember which vowel is correct in a particular word.

• People often confuse unstressed
e and a in words like category, desperate, separate, grammar. It is easy to muddle pairs such as allude and elude, affect and effect, which have very similar pronunciations.

• You may want to write unstressed
e as er, especially in words like integrate which it is easy to confuse with words beginning with inter-.

• It's easy to confuse
o with both a and e in unstressed syllables. Words which you may find difficult include corroborate (not -erate) and propaganda (not propo-).

• In unstressed syllables
e sometimes has a short i sound. You may find it hard to remember which words spell this sound with an e (e.g. artefact, benefit, indigenous, liquefy) and which spell it with an i (e.g. dilapidated, purify). It is easy to confuse elicit with illicit.

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