American English Intonation Patterns

Every day, people from around the world visit my American English pronunciation blog.

Hello everyone!

I’m very pleased to “see you” and I value your visits! ☼

Many of you blog readers email me to ask questions about spoken English.

….one topic you are very curious about is American English intonation patterns.

GOOD QUESTION!! Let’s talk about that.

First, let me describe the most common type of intonation that we use in the US.

The most common pattern is rising-falling intonation.⤵

This means that your pitch rises & then falls on the focus word (the most important word in the sentence).

The rising-falling intonation pattern is used in statements and in WH questions. These are questions that begin with the “wh” words such as who, where & what.

Watch the short presentation below to see some examples of this.

Spoken American English also uses other types of intonation including:

  • rising intonation
  • series intonation
  • tag question intonation

So how can you learn to use these critical featues for speaking clear American English?

If you are just starting your American accent training….I suggest that you start with an audio book or an audio course.

These types of learning resources will allow you to read about and listen to the intonation patterns that we use in American English.

My iPad book, American English Fundamentals has a chapter on intonation.


If you’ve studied intonation already….and need some honest, explicit feedback and instruction, you may want to consider accent reduction coaching.

Using American English intonation is one of the critical skills that I teach you in my accent reduction coaching course.

To learn MORE on this topic choose one of the links below.