The Emphasis Pattern of English
English is a “stress-timed rhythm” langue but not a “syllables-timed rhythm” langue .
Content words (emphasized)
Structure words (de-emphasized)
nouns (cat, book, Mary)
main verbs (make, run, study)
adjectives (good, happy, many)
adverbs (quickly, often, really)
(who, what, when, where, how, why)
(this, that, these, those)
pronouns (he, she, it, they)
prepositions (in, on, of, at)
articles (a, an, the)
“to-be” verbs (am, is, are, was)
“to-have” verbs (has, have, had)
conjunctions (and, but, so, since)
auxiliary verbs (do, can, may, will)
IMPORTANT:Negative words and negative “to-be,” “to-have,” and auxiliary verbs need to be stressed. ( e.g., no, never, isn’t, haven’t, can’t, don’t, won’t)
Any word in English can be a focus in a message. You can focus on a noun, a verb, an adjective, an adverb, a preposition, or an auxiliary.
The speaker uses focus to emphasize a certain part of his/her message. The use of focus can indicate the speaker’s intended meaning of a message. The focused word needs to be stressed, so it is louder, longer, and higher pitched than other words in a message.
Pausing and Thought Groups
Do you know where to pause in sentences to form thought groups?
We usually pause
1. before punctuation marks ( , . ; : ? ! )
2. before conjunctions (and, or, but, which, that, since…)
3. between grammatical units such as phrases, clauses, and sentences.
eg：Once upon a starless midnight / there was an owl / who sat on the branch of an oak tree./Two ground moles / tried to slip by, / unnoticed. / “You!” / said the owl. /”Who?” / they quavered, / in fear and astonishment, / for they could not believe /it was possible / for anyone to see them / in that thick darkness./