The Melody of English

Updated: Feb 28

If you want to learn the American accent, you need to learn the melody of English, which includes intonation and primary phrase stress. Intonation is the rising or falling pitch that that begins on the primary phrase stress.


Primary Phrase Stress (PPS) is the loudest word in a phrase, or thought unit.


General Rule: PPS falls on the last new content word in the phrase. Content words consist of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.

The match was between the TWO of them. (Two is the last content word in this sentence, and it hasn't already been mentioned.)

Here is my introductory lesson on PPS. Find the video here: Practice audio for this lesson found here:

https://soundcloud.com/sheila-lebedenko/what-word-do-i-stress-pps-prt-1-repetition-practice

The whole course, of which this lesson is a part, can be found on Skillshare

or Udemy.

example conversation:


Can I get a picture of you?

Why?

for a school project.

What's the subject of the project?

Biology. We talk about snakes.

You're the snake.

You seriously can't take a joke.

You just wait. I'll think of something good tomorrow.

Can I get a picture of you? ("Picture" is the last content word.) Why? (There are no content words here, so stress the only function word.) for a school project. ("Project" is the last new content word. "School project" is not treated like a compound noun.) What's the subject of the project? (Project is old. subject is the last new content word.) Biology. We talk about snakes. ("Biology" is the only word in that thought unit, so stress it.) ("Snakes" is the last new content word in the next unit.) You're the snake. ("Snake" is old information. Also, there is a rule to stress explicit contrasts. They are calling each other snakes! To contrast between speakers, and who is accused of being a snake, "you're" is stressed.) You seriously can't take a joke. (We could stress "joke," as the last new content word, but we can also stress strong adjectives or adverbs. Here, I chose to stress "seriously.") You just wait. I'll think of something good tomorrow. Stress "wait" because it's the last new content word. Stress "good "because we don't include context-setting time adverbials, such as tomorrow, now, yet, again, as PPS


For more detail, please take the online course: the Melody of English on Skillshare

or Udemy.


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