Neutral Sentence Stress Guidelines
The Rhythm Rule states that English speakers alternate between stressed and unstressed syllables in a spoken sentence, and that the stressed syllables of content words create the beats of spoken English rhythm. However, not every content word is always stressed. There are many scenarios that cause a speaker to choose between stressed words, and it always leads back to the Rhythm Rule.
Here are the Rhythm Rule guidelines for stressed words.
- Nouns and main verbs are the most important words
- Descriptive words (adjectives and adverbs) are less important than nouns and verbs
- Stress the first word of open compounds
- Stress the preposition of phrasal verbs
- Stress contractions with not, when possible
It is also necessary to know how to allow a word to remain unstressed, and how to reduce it when possible.
Here are the Rhythm Rule guidelines for unstressed words.
- Use schwa to reduce function words
- Create common contractions with auxiliary verbs
- Reduce pronouns
- Use informal contractions in informal situations
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