Lesson 2 - Syllables in English words

English words can have one or more syllables. Here are some examples.

one syllable
must can
two syllables
study exam
three syllables
diligent analyze
four syllables
analysis registration
five syllables
environmental durability
six syllables
permeability anthropological

Recognizing wordstress

If an English word has more than one syllable, one of the syllables of the word should sound stronger, or stressed. It is said more loudly, on a higher pitch and is slightly lengthened. There may be more than one stressed syllable in a poly-syllabic word such as “environmental”. In most dictionaries, the symbol used to indicate stress is /ˈ/ placed before the stressed syllable, e.g., eˈxam. If a word has more than one stressed syllable, the major one is called primary stress /ˈ/, and the other secondary stress /ˌ/ e.g., ˌphiˈlosophy. These stresses are usually indicated together with the pronunciation symbols /ˌfɪˈlɒsəfɪ/. Check your dictionary for the system used. The remaining unstressed syllables are pronounced very fast, i.e., with weak vowels.


Identifying wordstress

Find out the stresses in the following words.

1 must 2 can
3 study 4 exam
5 diligent 6 analyze
7 environment 8 durability
9 permeability 10 anthropological


Counting syllables and recognizing wordstress

Listen to the recording and write the number of syllables for each word in the space provided. Also read each word to yourself and find out where the stress is.

environment probable secondary
church able protect
walked coughed subtract
probability productive enthusiastic
economy interfaces purchased



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