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  • In this American English pronunciation video, we're going to go over word stress and three-syllable

  • words.

  • In American English, any word can have only one syllable with primary stress. That means

  • there are three possible stress patterns for a three syllable word: first syllable: DA-da-da,

  • second syllable: da-DA-da, or third syllable: da-da-DA.

  • Let's talk about what's happening with these patterns. Basically, it's a mix of long and

  • short. The stressed syllables are long, and the unstressed syllables are short. I've noticed

  • that my students that are Spanish speakers need to work on making their long syllables

  • longer: DA. Pretty much everyone else needs to work making their short syllables shorter: da.

  • Let's look at a couple of words for each category. Stress on the first syllable: rational, DA-da-da.

  • One way to practice as you're working on word stress is to break up the syllables. Practice

  • stressed and unstressed syllables separately. So, Rational. Ra-, ra-, the stressed syllable.

  • Notice how the voice goes up then down in pitch. That's the shape of a stressed syllable.

  • Click here to see that video, or look for the link in the description. The unstressed

  • syllables: da-da, tional. Ra-tional. Notice how it's much quieter, lower in pitch, very

  • fast. Maybe it even sounds a little muddled. -tional. As you practice unstressed syllables

  • separately, see just how short you can get these syllables. Try to make them extremely

  • fast. -tional. Rational. Another word with this stress pattern: popular.

  • DA-da-da, Popular. The stressed syllable, pop-, pop-. Unstressed: -ular. Again, very

  • fast, low in pitch, quieter. -ular. Pop-ular. Popular.

  • Stress on the second syllable: da-DA-da. For example, the word 'decided'. da-DA-da. De-ci-ded.

  • The stressed syllable, -CI-. Unstressed first syllable: de-. Unstressed last syllable: -ded.

  • Make them as short as possible. da-DA-da. Decided. Another word: Example, da-DA-da,

  • example. Stressed syllable: -xam. Unstressed: ex-, and -ple. Example. da-DA-da. Example.

  • And finally, stressed on the last syllable, da-da-DA. Everyday. da-da-DA. The stressed

  • syllable: -DAY. Unstressed syllables: every-, da-da, every-, da-da-DA, everyday.

  • Another word: eighty-one: da-da-DA. Stressed syllable: -ONE. Unstressed syllables: da-da,

  • eighty. Eighty-one. da-da-DA. Eighty-one.

  • This concept of long and short, of rhythmic contrast, is part of the foundation of the

  • character of American English. Why not practice on rhythm as you learn a new word? When you

  • look a word up in the dictionary, this symbol means primary stress. Let's say you've just

  • learned the word 'sensation'. You'll look it up in the dictionary and see this. Stress

  • on the middle syllable, sensation. So practice it on just rhythm a few times. da-DA-da, sensation.

  • Paying attention to rhythmic contrast will definitely help you sound more American. Practice

  • now, choose a three-syllable word, and record yourself saying the rhythmic pattern, then

  • the word. For example, da-DA-da, example. Post it as a video response to this video

  • on YouTube. I can't wait to see your rhythmic contrast.

  • That's it, and thanks so much for using Rachel's English.

In this American English pronunciation video, we're going to go over word stress and three-syllable

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