Stress Patterns In English
View Post
In this Explearning Communications lesson, I teach you about stress patterns in English. This is a video about emphatic stress with examples. You will learn how to emphasize words, stress patterns, and word stress in the English language. Knowing about emphatic stress will help you emphasize your points with clarity.

In communication it is important to know this to effectively convey a message or persuade someone.Today we’re talking about using emphatic stress for emphasis in communication.

Before we dive into emphatic stress, let’s make sure we’re not missing a beat and talk about stress in the English language. English is a stress-timed language (as opposed to syllable timed like Cantonese and Spanish).

Stress-timed means that the stressed syllables are given more importance than unstressed syllables which will be said more quickly to fit the rhythm of the sentence. 

In this blog post we’re talking about another communication strategy. Emphatic stress is an important part of communication

Every sentence has sentence stress meaning that we’ll stress the important words in a sentence and gloss over the less important words *saying those more quickly). 

Content words that carry meaning (nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives) will be given emphasis whereas function words are weak and unstressed (articles, modals, conjunctions, prepositions). 

That background will make emphatic stress easier to digest.

Emphatic stress is a little bit different because here the speaker is making a conscious effort to blatantly point out what we want the interlocutor or audience to pay attention to.

Let’s run through an example:

Have you seen the new documentary on intermittent fasting?

Because English is a stress-timed language, the content words there are documentary and intermittent fasting. 

But, now, we’re looking at how emphatic stress can alter the meaning of that question… in six different ways:

  • HAVE you seen the new documentary on intermittent fasting? (really, have you actually seen it?)
  • Have you SEEN the new documentary on intermittent fasting? (you’ve heard of it, but not seen it)
  • Have you seen the NEW documentary on intermittent fasting? (not the old one from 2 years ago)
  • Have you seen the new documentary on intermittent FASTING? (as opposed to intermittent snacking)
  • Have YOU seen the new documentary on intermittent fasting? (everyone one else has, but have you)
  • Have you seen the new documentary on INTERMITTENT fasting? (not 3 day or 30 day fasting)

That one questions has 6 alternate meanings depending on where you place emphatic stress.

Where will you use emphatic stress? The next time you’re trying to drive home a point with your audience or your interlocutors, use emphatic stress to have your message resonate with them. This will help your audience pay attention to what points YOU believe are important which will alert them to the message. It basically does the heavy lifting for the audience, so they know which information is worth retaining. 

Happy Explearning 🌠

About the Author and the Explearning Academy:

Mary Daphne is an expert in communication, executive interpersonal skills, and personal development. She is the founder of the Explearning Academy, a platform dedicated to helping individuals enhance their social fluency, boost their careers, and elevate their social game. Through immersive group coaching programs like the Executive Communication Lab and self-guided journeys, participants gain the social superpowers and career catapults they've been searching for. If you're ready to take your negotiation skills to the next level and connect with like-minded individuals, visit and explore the various plans available. Join the Explearning Academy community and unlock your full potential.

Thank you for reading! If you found this blog post valuable, don't forget subscribe to our YouTube channel and follow our podcast!

🎤 Sign up for my group coaching program🎤
🤩 Join our community 🤩 for a self-guided fully-supported journey
Learn more about Explearning Academy
🏆 Sign up for our 33-Day Executive Excellence Challenge 🏆

View More Posts