Word Stress Patterns in Longer Words - Pronunciation Pointer (Heather Hansen)


by HeatherHansen

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Pronunciation Pointer: Word Stress Patterns in Longer Words

When we begin building longer words in English, that's when things really start to change. We add prefixes and suffixes to root words to create more words, and sometimes when we do this, we end up changing the stress on that root word. Prefixes are added to the beginnings of root words and suffixes are added to the ends.

The majority of suffixes will not change the original word stress. Here are a few examples: Notice that the stress stays the same when the root word stands alone and when the suffix is added. I've used capital letters in this video to show the stressed syllables.

When we add the suffix, a-b-l-e to the word depend, it becomes dePENDable.

Add an e-r to RUN and you get RUNNer.

Add the ending 'hood' to NEIGHbour and you get NEIGHbourhood.

The suffix i-s-h can be added to SELF to make SELFish.

And the m-e-n-t suffix when added to comMENCE makes comMENCEment.

Pretty simple so far, right?

Well, unfortunately, some suffixes will change the word stress. Luckily they follow some general patterns.

For the suffixes i-o-n, i-a-n, i-c, and c-i-a-l, the word stress will always shift to the syllable directly before the suffix. So for example, for the i-o-n suffix:

COMPlicate -- compliCAtion

The stress moved from the first syllable, COMP to the syllable directly before the i-o-n suffix, compliCAtion.

The same is true for abBREViate and abbreviAtion. You could make a whole list of words ending in i-o-n, and you'll see this pattern emerge.

The same goes for the i-a-n suffix:
MUsic -- muSIcian

eLECtric -- elecTRIcian

The i-c ending:
eCONomy -- ecoNOMic

ROmance -- roMANtic

And the c-i-a-l ending:
FInance -- fiNANcial

BENefit -- beneFIcial

Let's take a look at some of these words in sentences:
1. The fiNANcial crisis led to ecoNOMic ruin for many.

2. The elecTRIcian quit his job to follow his dream of becoming a muSIcian.

3. The partnership was