posted by Derek on .
How do I know if a syllable is stressed or unstressed?
Dictionaries always show which syllables are stressed. Although they have different ways of showing it, they have punctuation keys. For instance, the first syllable of syl la ble is stressed. Check this dictionary entry to see how two different dictionaries indicate this stress.
You can tell by listening to the word, pronounced by someone who knows! Or you can tell by the marks in the dictionary. Here are some examples:
You can see the word itself, divided into syllables; then in parentheses, there are pronunciation indicators, including what look like an apostrophes:
in·com·pre·hen·si·ble (ĭn'kŏm-prĭ-hĕn'sə-bəl, ĭn-kŏm'-)
On the webpage itself, you should notice that the first ' after "in" is lighter in color than the one after "hen" -- that means that "hen" is pronounced the most loudly of all the syllables in the word, and that "in" is pronounced a bit less loudly than "hen."
After the closing parenthesis, there's a little speaker symbol. If you click on it, you can hear the word pronounced.
If you have specific words you have questions about, be sure to let us know.
Could you help me with these words? lore, lend, increase, and interrupts.
Thanks for the help.
One way I have used to work with students on stressed and unstressed syllables is to "pat the word out". Say the word outloud. Pat your hand on your desk or table when you say it. How many times do you pat your hand? This will give you the number of syllables. Then, say the word again; pat your hand harder when you say that part of the word louder or longer. That will be the stressed syllable. Even high school students (who think patting is silly) find out that it works.
Below is the marking for those words.
lore - 'lOr
lend - 'lend
increase - in-'kres, 'in-kres (both are correct.)
interrupts - in-t&-'r&pts, 'in-t&-r&pts"