Word Stress: Compound Words and Adj. + Noun Combinations

Eric Dodson

What is word stress?

Example: Portland Oregon


PORTland ORegon

Oo Ooo   <– The capital O means stressed syllables. The small o means unstressed syllables.

not: portLAND oREgon

Stress is:

  1. Longer
  2. Louder
  3. Higher (in pitch, like music)
  4. Clearer (the vowel is easy to hear and full; it is NOT a schwa /ə/, usually)
  5. Bigger (easy to see!)

Practice by listening, repeating, and checking with a tutor or teacher:

Compound Nouns

The stress usually is on the first word or part:

  1. classmate
  2. homework
  3. football
  4. bathroom
  5. website
  6. keyboard
  7. writing teacher
  8. English class
  9. reading test
  10. due date

Normal Adjectives + Nouns

The stress will usually fall on the noun. The adjective may have some stress, but it will have less than the noun — usually!

If you change the stress patterns, you may be changing the meaning or the feeling of what you’re saying.

Can you practice these common phrases with stress on the nouns?

  1. a long walk
  2. a good grade
  3. a short speech
  4. a clear voice
  5. a hard quiz
  6. some organized notes
  7. a confident speaker
  8. an interesting person

Extra: Stress on numbers!

Numbers also almost always receive stress:

  1. example 1
  2. speech number 2
  3. exercise 3
  4. My group had 4 classmates
  5. I’m in level 5
  6. But I’m getting ready for communication 6

Listen and Repeat

One good resource for teachers or tutors: British Council Teaching English – Word Stress


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Green Tea Intermediate English Communication OER Copyright © 2020 by Eric Dodson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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