Saturday, 7 November 2009


Last class we learnt the importance of emphasis in our daily life speech, we now know that emphasis is when we call more attention to the thought which we consider more important. But what do we use emphasis for? We use emphasis to change the meaning of something we want to say. We use this technique to stress that a word is more important than other in a sentence. We can see the difference in emphasis while conversation, but we must pay a lot of attention because sometimes native people speak really fast and we do not get the real idea they want to stress on, and it is really important that we put this technique into practice too.
We can not see the difference of emphasis in writing at least we write with a different type of letter.
Here you have an example:
  1. Mary wants him to help her with the homework (basic meaning any word stress)
  2. MARY wants him to help her with the homework (emphasis on the person who wants the help)
  3. Mary wants HIM to help her with the homework (Emphasis that the person wants him [no one else] to help her with the homework)
  4. Mary wants him to to HELP her with the homework ( Emphasis in the action to help her and nothing else)
  5. Mary wants him to help her with THE HOMEWORK (She only wants him help with the homework)

However, this is not the only way to make stress there are other different ways, one of them is repetition ejm. "you are very, very pretty" ; by pausing before the word or phrase you want to emphasize. We must practice this kind of tecniques to improve our pronunciation and make our speech sound more natural.

Click here and you will find some examples of other ways of emphasizing a word, includes some exercises:




1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your post, Nancy. Your example sentences clearly show how meaning can be altered according to the emphasis in an utterance, and for anybody who wants to hear this emphasis in practice, the last link ( has some easily detectable examples in voice recordings.

    I'd like to point out very briefly that the first link included ( does look at emphasis, but focuses on the grammatical constructions used for emphasis rather than phonologial features of emphasis. These are particularly useful for written English, although they can also be used in spoken English.