Stress means the extra force usually applied when pronouncing a partivular word or syllable. In other words, it refers to a property of syllables which make them stand out as more noticabe than others.

Stress can also be described as the contrast between different degrees of breath – force given to syllables in English.

Stress embraces three clear categories. They are word stress, sentence stress and emphatic stress.


Word stress is more or less fixed. Each word possesses strong/weak stresses which is content words in English. These are Nouns, Adverbs, Verbs and Adjectives. It begins strongly at the beginning of the stress and dies down at the end of the syllable. It is often made wit stable pitch.

In speech we use words of one, two or more syllables. In any words of more than one syllable, one syllable is stressed and the other syllable normally has a lesser degree of stress. In English, there are three degrees of stress:

  • Primary / strong stress
  • Secondary stress
  • Unstressed / weak syllable

Stress placement is shown

(i) By either placing a mark (‘) at the beginning of the stressed syllable, for example ‘contest con’test.

(ii) OR by capitalizing the letters of the stressed syllable: for example CONtest, contest.

Primary/strong/stressed syllable

It is a syllable pronounced with greater or much effort. It is indicated by placing a STROKE (‘) or top before the syllable sound to be stressed but in this work, the stressed shall be written in capital letter

Primary stress on

1st syllable                                                           2nd syllable                                                          3rd syllable

CAPtain                                                comMAND                                                          democratic

RUbber                                                                supPORT                                                              teleVIsion

PAINter                                                                reJOICE                                                inhiBItion

JOURney                                                              meTAlLIC                                                             acaDEmic

SUBject                                                humILITY                                                             pessiMIStic

inVENT                                                                 deVOTE                                                reCEDE

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