The Most Common Syllable Stress Pattern

You must use the correct syllable stress patterns

If you’re at all knowledgeable about American English pronunciation, you understand that using syllable stress correctly is one of the KEYS to clear communication.

American listeners need you to stress the correct syllable when you say a word. If you don’t do that, there’s a very good chance that they won’t understand you!

The most common syllable stress pattern

The info-graphic below shows you the most common syllable stress pattern in American English.

Take a look. You may be surprised at this very important rule for speaking clear American English.

Do you know this rule for speaking with an American accent?

How to stress 2 syllable nouns in American English


Read the graphic carefully to see how Americans stress syllables in two syllable nouns when they speak.

You simply must apply these rules in order to speak English in a way that Americans will understand.

Learn syllable stress rules & patterns

How can you learn these rules and patterns for correct American English pronunciation?

My iPad book for the American accent teaches you the fundamental rules for using syllable stress.

Rules, Sentence & Dialog Practice

Not only that, my iPad book provides you with sentences and dialogs that you can use to practice these patterns.

If you’re an iPad user working to improving your American accent, check out my very interactive, easy to use iBook.

Find out more about my iBook and download the first chapter for free!

☛ American Accent iPad Book.

Start learning the rules for syllable stress and put them into practice right away.✔ I guarantee that your American English will sound more clear.



Which words should I stress?

Don’t stress every word

Which words should I stress?

Which words should I stress?

One of the biggest American accent challenges my accent reduction coaching clients have to learn is choosing which words to stress in a sentence or phrase.

In fact, each week one of my clients will tell me~

Susan, I know that I’m not supposed to stress every word…but I’m not sure which words to stress and which words to reduce.

They understand something very important

You see….stressing every word equally, or stressing the wrong word in a sentence… creates an spoken melody that Americans find difficult to understand.

Stressing every word equally, or stressing the wrong word makes your speech sound foreign. This contributes to breakdowns in communication.

My clients understand this. But they don’t always know the rules for which word to stress.

Let me give you a few examples.

Japanese, Korean & Chinese speakers

Speakers of these languages tend to stress each word with the same emphasis. This makes their speech sound choppy and foreign to the native listener.

Spanish speakers

Spanish speakers tend to stress adjectives & pronouns instead of nouns.This pattern also sounds foreign to the native listener.

Indian language speakers

South Asian English speakers often stress compound nouns on the second part of the word. This sounds unusual to the native listener who expects to hear stress on the first part of the word.

Three easy rules for word stress

Learning to stress words correctly (or as we do in North America) will greatly enhance your spoken English skills.

Below are three easy rules you can use when deciding which word to stress.

1. Compound words are stressed on the first syllable.

Examples include homework, football, green card, fast food & highway


2. When an adjective is followed by a noun, stress the noun.

Examples include: pretty girl, little boy, fast car, big house & nice day


3. Two word place names are stressed on the second part.

Examples include: New York, New Jersey, Niagara Falls, Ocean City   ❀

Word stress can be tricky

It’s difficult to think about which word you should stress when you’re in the middle of a conversation!!

Even my most advanced accent reduction clients still make occasional mistakes when it comes to stressing words the way Americans do.

Word stress lessons

While word stress may seem unimportant to you now, keep in mind that it’s very important to your American English listeners! ✔

My American Accent Fundamentals iBook

My American Accent Fundamentals iBook teaches you many of the basic rules for using the correct word stress when you speak.

If you’re an iPad user who is working to improve your American accent, start learning the rules for word stress and much more in this cool interactive guide.

✰ American Accent iBook

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Have trouble expressing your thoughts?

Do you have trouble expressing your thoughts?

Nobody understands my ideas

Nobody understands my ideas

The wise and super intelligent people who I work with in my accent reduction coaching problem frequently tell me this:

Susan, I often have trouble expressing my thoughts and ideas fluently. This is really frustrating! Sometimes I don’t even say things at meetings because I’m afraid I’ll mess up.

Fluency & Confidence

It seems like fluency in speaking and confidence go hand in hand. If you don’t sound fluent, you don’t feel or sound confident.

  • You hear yourself struggling
  • Others hear you struggling
  • The situation gets uncomfortable

Then you take a back seat, even though your ideas are insightful, money saving and relevant.

How to Speak More Fluently

When I work with people in my online accent reduction class and coaching programs, I teach them to speak more fluently by using THE THREE P’s METHOD for speaking American English.

Here it it⤵

Susan’s THREE P’s METHOD for Fluent American English

  • Phrases ~ Speak in phrases
  • Pitch ~ Use pitch emphasis on the key word in each phrase
  • Pauses ~ Pause slightly at the end of each phrase

Sounds simple, right?

Well, it usually takes most people a few weeks to catch on to this pattern, but once they do….

WOW…they definitely sound more clear and more fluent!

In fact you’ll be speaking with a melody that the American listener enjoys hearing.♬

The American Listener

I’ll tell you right here…if you speak in a manner that sounds choppy, monotone, word by word, with lots of ummz & ahhhz,  people will tune out.☹

Once they tune out, your ideas, no matter how good they are, won’t get heard.

And when your ideas don’t get heard, everyone in your organization loses!

Learn to Express Yourself Fluently

In my online Accent Reduction Class, I teach you to speak more clearly and fluently using my soon to be famous THREE P’s METHOD. Right now it’s only famous with my clients as you can see from the comment below.

I just finished watching your two online courses. And I’d like to share some of my thoughts with you.  The courses are really inspiring! The “phrases, pitch and pauses” method really makes sense and greatly summarizes the key to speak.

Interesting, isn’t it?

A Quote for You to Ponder

As you think more about fluency and pitch, phrases & pauses, I’ll leave you with a quote that I like from Marianne Williamson.

Express your thoughts

Express your thoughts

Thanks for visiting my blog…and do check out my online Accent Reduction Class. Invest in your communication skills and let your wisdom emerge!

What speech habits do you need to change?

Changing Speech Habits

Changing Speech Habits

Changing Speech Habits

What speech habits do you need to change to bring your American English up to the next level?

Everyone is Different

Everyone is different. Different language backgrounds, different careers, different goals…

This means that in order to speak American English with increased

  • clarity
  • professionalism
  • confidence
  • engagement

You’ll need to understand which of your current speech habits you need to change.

Good to Great

As Jim Collins says in his acclaimed bestselling book, Good to Great,

  • in order to have new ideas, we often need to let go of old ones
  • in order to learn, we first need to recognize what we need to unlearn

That’s how it works when you’re trying to change your accent. You’ve got to let go of some of your old ways of speaking.

And that can be challenging!

Most People Need to Learn About American English Melody

When if comes to American English, speaking with the right melody (stress & intonation) is really important.

Dos & Don’ts

Right now, you habitually speak using the patterns of your native language.

If your native language gives equal stress to each syllable, you’ll tend to do that when you speak American English (we definitely don’t do that!).

If your native language doesn’t use distinctive rising falling intonation patterns, you won’t do that when you speak American English (even though you should).

A Coach Can Help you Break Your Old Habits!

While working with a client in my accent reduction coaching program this morning, he said to me;

Susan, since we started working together, I’ve been able to break my old habits for speaking English. I’ve been able to learn the new habits I needed to make people understand me. It’s taken me awhile to do this. But it’s really happening.

His honest and thoughtful reflection really made my day!

And he’s right, I, and everyone else, now understands him much more easily. That’s because he’s broken some of his old speaking habits and adopted new ways,  the American way of

  • saying key words with the correct syllable stress
  • asking information questions using rising falling intonation

Your Habits 

If your career success depends on clear American English communication, you owe it to yourself to invest in some training. Read more information here on my blog to learn more about how to speak in a style that’s clear and engaging.

  1. Start with my syllable stress archive
  2. And then go to my intonation archive

Accent Reduction Training Courses

Or check out my training courses and start doing some focused work on your communication skills. Old habits are hard to change. But you can do this. You just have to start!

Thanks for visiting!

How do you pronounce equivalent?

In my accent reduction coaching program for STEM professionals many of my clients ask me:

How do you pronounce equivalent?

How do you pronounce equivalent?

Susan, how do you pronounce equivalent?

They know they’re not saying equivalent correctly…but they’re not exactly sure what the problem is.

Here’s How To Do It

Here’s how I teach my clients to say equivalent correctly using my special code.

ǝ KWI➝ vǝ lǝnt

Now that might look funny to you, but if were were in my coaching program you’d understand that:

  • ǝ is the unstressed schwa vowel sound that we use in almost every word
  • KWI➝ represents the stressed syllable, of which there’s one in every word

Syllable Stress & Schwa

If you’ve never learned how to use syllable stress and schwa correctly….you’re not going to be able to speak American English clearly.

That’s just a fact.

Some accent reduction courses don’t spend much time on this topic…so be careful about that. If you’re considering a course or program that doesn’t feature syllable stress, find another program.


You can follow this link to learn the importance of syllable stress.

Now…back to equivalent…..

Listen to How I Say Equivalent


Equivalent is a tough word to pronounce. Especially if you learned to say if differently in your country of origin (which many people have).

Understanding how to use syllable stress and schwa will help you learn to say equivalent, equipment, development, and many other multi syllable words in way that Americans will understand.

Learn Speak in a Way that Americans Understand

If you want to learn techniques like I taught you here…techniques like using syllable stress….then check out my American accent training courses.

Make an investment in your communication skills. Start learning today!

Want Clear American English?

Clear American English

Clear American English

Clear American English

I always tell my accent reduction clients that one technique for speaking clear American English is to lengthen your vowel sounds.

Long Clear Vowel Sounds

Why are long clear vowel sounds so important?

Here’s the reason.

In spoken American English every word has one syllable that is stressed.

The vowel sounds in stressed syllables are said a bit louder and a bit longer than the other vowel sounds in a word.

Syllable Stress

Lengthening the vowel sound in stressed syllables is one of, if not the best technique you can use to reduce your accent and make yourself understood by North Americans.

How Do I Know This?

The idea that lengthening the vowel sounds in stressed syllables is a key technique for speaking clear American English is not my idea.

Research done in the US and Canada consistently proves this point.

English speakers tend to store vocabulary items according to their stress patterns. 
We store words under stress patterns . . . And we find it difficult to interpret an utterance in which a word is pronounced with the wrong stress pattern
(Brown 1990; Levelt 1989)

My Experience

Learning to speak with the correct syllable stress, using long clear vowel sounds in stressed syllables WILL allow you to be understood.

My experience coaching hundreds of international professionals to speak American English in a manner that’s clear and engaging bears this out.

A New York Times Story About Long Clear Vowel Sounds

Here is a short story from the New York Times that describes a Japanese student changing his accent to sound more American.

And yes….he started to lengthen his vowel sounds.

Sound More American

Archive on Syllable Stress

If the idea of syllable stress and long clear vowel sounds is NEW for you, I invite you to read more on this topic at my syllable stress archive.


clear American English



The Energetic Voice

The Wall Street Journal recently featured an excellent article on the barack obamavoice.

This article cited recent research on what makes a voice sound powerful, influential and authentic.

The Energetic Voice

According to research analyst Carrie Goldberger~

An energetic voice comes across to listeners as authentic, inspiring trust.. And vocal energy is easily controlled by the speaker, providing ambitious people a ready tool for advancement.

Vocal Energy

Learning to use vocal energy is a critical skill that most of my accent reduction clients learn in their courses.

  1. They learn to emphasize words to highlight key information.
  2. They learn to use rising & falling tones that engage the listener.
  3. They learn to speak in a manner that inspires trust.
  4. They learn to speak English using the melody that Americans like to hear. ♫

If you are concerned about the way your voice is perceived by your colleagues and coworkers, take 3 minutes to read this important article.

 The Sound of Your Voice Speaks Volumes

What Can You Do?

If you’re a non native English speaker who wants to speak in a style that’s clear and engaging, check out what you could learn in an accent reduction coaching course.

I specialize in personal accent coaching for STEM professionals.

Until July 15

Until July 15, you can get a detailed and very personal Accent Assessment at a more than reasonable price. Follow this link to see the details.



Does accent reduction work?

Here’s the Key Questionblue questionmark

Does accent reduction work?

Defining Progress

  • Yes. you can reduce your foreign accent.
  • Yes, you can make changes to the way you speak.
  • Yes, you can learn to speak in a style that others will understand.

But you probably won’t eliminate your accent.

And you don’t need to!

Everybody’s Different

Many people who sign up for accent reduction training are able to make significant changes to the way they speak.

Other people only make a small amount of progress.

Why Is This?

First of all, there is no magic formula for change. Your current speech is an accumulation of habits learned from your native language.

You have to find out which of your current habits are creating communication problems for you.

You have to change these habits if you want to speak American English more clearly.

Successful Clients

In my work as an accent reduction coach I’ve found that my most successful clients all do these things;

1. They TELL people that they’re working to improve their accent.

OK, may be kind of embarrassing to tell people about your accent reduction training, but, telling others helps you stay accountable to your goals.

You’ll also get positive support and feedback. This is encouraging and keeps you motivated.

2. They practice SOMEthing every day.

My most successful accent reduction clients study and practice every day.

They may not practice for an hour, but they always work on one exercise that takes them towards their goal.

Exercises may include repeating phrases they heard on the radio, watching a video, listening to an mp3 file or working on a list of 10 problem words.

3. They listen to their own speech.

Without a doubt, the people who are the most successful in my accent reduction programs listen to our recorded sessions.

This allows them to hear their speech in relation to mine. They’re really able to hear their accents clearly when they listen to our session recordings.

Accent Reduction Takes Time

There is no magic formula for accent reduction. You won’t make changes overnight.

However, if you understand which habits you need to change, and stay focused on your practice, you WILL make noticeable progress.

Skype Accent Reduction Coaching

In my Skype accent reduction coaching program I help you develop new speech habits. I work with you privately and confidentially to teach you and support you as you make changes to your speech.

☼ You CAN make changes to your speech that will help others understand you. ☼

If you are serious about speaking clear and engaging American English, I invite you to learn more about my ☆ Accent reduction coaching program.

Be Successful

Join other successful people who HAVE reduced their accents by getting the personal instruction and support you need.


OR…learn more as you continue to read more proven tips and techniques here on my blog.⤵

Accent Assessments Available

Why Is It That People Don’t Always Understand You?mumbo jumbo

Do you ever wonder WHY Americans have difficulty understanding you when you speak?

Many professionals working in the US, or working with American multinationals outside the US, know that their accent is creating communication problems…

….but they’re not sure EXACTLY what the problem areas are.

I can help you with this!

An Accent Assessment Will Tell You Why

If you want to understand WHY your accent creates breakdowns in communication, I’d be glad to do an Accent Assessment for you.

Here’s How Accent Assessments Work

  1. You’ll leave me a speech recording using the personalized form that I send you (customized for your profession)
  2. I’ll listen very carefully to your recording
  3. I’ll create a detailed and personal written Assessment for you to read
  4. I’ll create an audio file of the Assessment for you to listen to

Detailed & Specific Information

You will receive very specific and personal information about your accent. I’ll tell you:

  • the vowel & consonant sounds
  • the pace issues
  • the syllable stress patterns
  • the intonation patterns

That are creating challenges for your listeners.

I’ll tell you exactly why native speakers don’t always understand you. And I’ll tell you what you need to do, in order to say words, phrases and sentences in a manner that’s clear & easy for others to understand.

Not a Computer Generated Screening

My Accent Assessment is very customized and personal. (You’ll see how I do Wise owl computerthat when you sign up). It’s NOT a generic computer based screening.

The Assessment that I complete for you is based on your unique profile.

The analysis is done by a real human being (that’s me) who will tell you how you sound to a native speaker.

How Much Does It Cost?

The cost is only $100.00.  

This is a super good deal for anyone who wants detailed and personal information about their current American communication challenges.

It’s an excellent opportunity for you to get some very personal information about your accent and learn about changes you can make to speak in a clear and confident manner.


If you’re curious to find out WHY others don’t always understand your American English… accent assessment is an easy step for you to take!

If you’d like to take advantage of this opportunity, send me a message at I’ll get your Assessment started as soon as possible!

Thanks for visiting my blog!