How do I know which syllable to stress?

How do I know which syllable to stress?

How do I know which syllable to stress?

How do I know which syllable to stress?

If you’ve been working on your American accent, you understand that using syllable stress correctly is one of the key skills that you need to learn.

You understand that using the correct syllable stress in critical.

However, knowing WHICH syllable to stress is not so easy.

In fact, one of the most common questions that people ask me is:

Susan, how do I know which syllable to stress?

Syllable stress rules & dictionaries 

Dictionaries use a tiny symbol like this ‘ to indicate which syllable in a word is stressed.

You can see a sample below from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.





Some dictionaries add the ‘ before the stressed syllable as you see above.

Other dictionaries add the ‘ after the stressed syllable.

The Schwa vowel sound ə

That upside down ə that you see in the second and third syllables represents the SCHWA vowel sound.

When you see that ə representing a vowel, you need to reduce the sound.

Reduce it a lot!

Most people never notice

These syllable stress symbols are tiny. Most people have never even noticed them.

But they’re really important!

I make it clear

When I coach people how to speak with an American accent,I provide my clients with a Master List for Syllable Stress that they can use to master these critical patterns.

My Master List for Syllable Stress teaches you the syllable stress rules for:

  1. Two syllable nouns
  2. Place names
  3. People’s names
  4. Nouns ending with tion
  5. Two syllable verbs
  6. Verbs ending with ize
  7. Verbs ending with ate
  8. Adjectives ending with ate
  9. Initialisms
  10. Numbers

It’s a BIG LIST. And it’s really important if you want to speak in a way that sounds clear to Americans.

Learn more here on my blog

Follow this link to learn more about how using syllable stress will help you speak American English clearly.

Get some personal coaching

If you’re serious about making noticeable changes to the way you speak American English, see how my Skype accent reduction coaching program can help you achieve your communication goals.

About the author

Susan Ryan is an accent reduction coach. Contact her with your questions about clear American speech.