When to stress the last syllable

When to stress the last syllablefrance

Many words that arrived in American English from French are stressed on the final syllable or suffix. Here are some of the most common.

A. Stress EE

  • refugee
  • guarantee
  • employee
  • interviewee

B. Stress TIQUE

  • boutique
  • unique
  • antique

C. Stress EER

  • engineer
  • career
  • volunteer
  • souvenir

D. Stress ET  (the T is silent)

  • buffet
  • ballet
  • valet
  • soufflé

E. Stress ETTE

  • cassette
  • baguette
  • kitchenette

F. Stress ESE (use a /z/ sound)

  • Sudanese
  • Lebanese
  • Vietnamese

G. Stress PORT (the T is held or silent)

  • rapport
  • support

H. Stress LOON

  • balloon
  • saloon
  • bassoon

I. Stress ESQUE

  • picturesque
  • grotesque

Remember that American English is a melting pot of words that we’ve “adopted” from various other languages. The way the word is stressed is often based on the language it was adopted from.

Note~ these are Americanized pronunciations. A French speaker would not pronounce these syllables with as much stress as an American English speaker.

About the author

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