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Hyper Reading and Speaking in the English Language Part 3: Emphatic Sentence Stress

Updated on April 5, 2019
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Rhylee Suyom has hopped in three different worlds: the academe, the corporate, and the media. He enjoys being with nature and his family.

Raising a word or words in a sentence dramatically changes its meaning.
Raising a word or words in a sentence dramatically changes its meaning. | Source

The Power of Emphatic Sentence Stress in Reading and Speaking

The Third Skill to Acquire

Knowing linking and contraction and using both while practicing your reading and speaking skills may have improved your speed and pronunciation by now. You may want to revisit these two skills in the links: https://hubpages.com/education/Hyper-Reading-and-Speaking-in-the-English-Language-PART-2-Contraction and https://hubpages.com/education/Hyper-Reading-and-Speaking-in-the-English-Language respectively. Hope you have spent ample time learning those skills in preparation for this next one. For the next part, the emphatic sentence stress will help you understand that a specific word raised or read louder than other words in a sentence will mean something perhaps even totally opposite of what you have in mind.

Sampling the Magic Words

Here is a classic example which many people do not seem to pay attention to or hardly notice when they deliver the ‘magic words.”

NOTE: Although the sentences may appear the same, the bold and CAPITALIZED word is the one which is supposed to be stressed or read louder than the other words in each sentence.

  1. I love you. (the word “I” is stressed)
  2. I LOVE you. (the word “LOVE” is stressed)
  3. I love YOU. (the word “YOU” is stressed)

Now ask yourself. If you were to tell your special someone the magic words “I love you,” which sentence would you deliver? Will it be A stressing the “I”? Will it be B which stresses “LOVE”? or Will it be C which raises the last word “YOU”?

Explanation of Each Sentence and the Scenarios

To illustrate the meaning per sentence. Let us first create the scenario per sentence so you will have a complete idea which one will be best.

For A, imagine you have loved someone so much that you have sacrificed, given everything that you have, and done so much more than you can imagine you can do for anyone, and now that someone wants to leave you for good. NO ONE LOVES that someone except you, yet he/she wants to leave you for good. Now you want to let the person know how insignificant he/she is since NO ONE REALLY LOVES him/her…so you say “I” love you! (because NO ONE LOVES him/her… and if you leave, that someone will never feel love anymore.

For C, it is the exact opposite of A. Imagine the person you truly love most wants to leave you, and he/she is THE ONLY PERSON YOU TRULY LOVE. So, if this person leaves, you will never be loved anymore. The delivery then is more of asking for the person to stay and love you still BECAUSE YOU LOVE NO ONE ELSE but him/her.

For B, the scene is perhaps about a bit of jealousy and your love one is starting to suspect you are up to something no good. He/She may try to intimidate you or force you into getting mad as well, BUT YOU WANT TO TELL THE PERSON WHAT YOU REALLY FEEL…so, you say ‘I LOVE you.’ You are not angry, or mad, or jealous…you are stating that you LOVE the person.

Learning to be Sharp with the 'Stress'

What have you noticed so far? If you are sharp, you will begin to realize that stressing even just a single word dramatically changes the whole meaning and scene. This means that we must be extra careful every time we open our mouths because of the rising and falling of intonation or due to emphatic sentence stress, we may never actually mean what we say if we lose sight of the 'stress.'

Remembering the Past Skills

If we will go back to the examples given in the linking and contraction, we will easily notice that the explanations give emphasis to certain word or words in each sentence. Take the case of the sentence “Where are you from?” A close examination of the linking plus contraction will reveal that only the first and last words were pronounced clearly. The word “are” was totally omitted while the word “you” was sandwiched smacked in the middle totally constricting the four-word sentence into one smooth flow of delivery “WerUfrom?” WHERE and FROM were stressed. Again, as explained in the first two parts, asking someone who is not good in English with “WHERE FROM?” is already understandable thus also explaining why these words have to be stressed in the complete sentence of “Where are you from?”

This stressing a word or words is a beautiful process to observe when we speak our native language, but sadly we lose the stress when we shift into a foreign or second language such as the English language because most non-native speakers are more afraid than willing to practice and learn by doing.

TAKE THE E.S.S. Test now!

To help you learn how to properly stress some words in a given sentence, why don’t you try doing the following sentences given below and see if you can deliver and explain what the sentence meant.

  1. YOU want to HIT ME?
  2. I DO NOT KNOW the answer.
  3. Where are you GOING?
  4. WILL you DO THIS then?
  5. Our job IS DONE.

Try delivering and explaining the meaning plus the scenario per sentence while being mindful of the words stressed. Hope you can do them all. Have fun!

FAQs for You!

1. How do I know which word or words to stress in a sentence? Imagine if you have to talk to someone who does not really understand the English language. You will surely pick the only word or words you have to say such as "name?" in the sentence "What is your name?" This is how emphatic sentence stress works.

2. Why is it difficult for me to understand what most native speakers say when they are talking? This is because many non-native speakers of English do not know or have not tried learning the skills of linking, contraction, and emphatic sentence stress. If you will observe, you will begin to realize that all languages follow these skills and aspects, it is just that no one told us about them.

3. How can I develop these skills fast? There is no better way than to practice and get a really good speaking partner. If you regularly speak with someone using these skills, you can easily develop the hyper reading and speaking skills.

4. Will watching American movies improve my skills? Definitely! However, if you will watch American movies, make sure that they are not dubbed in your native tongue and there are no translations in the sub-titles. Watch them as they are and listen well. If you chance upon a good line which interests you, memorize it and try using it. Writing it down would also increase your chance of remembering and using the line. Remember, "it is more than meets the eye."

5. What other daily activities should I do even without a speaking partner that will have a strong effect on my skills? The best thing is to download and regularly listen to English songs and sing them. This method involves multiple skills development, listening, comprehension, and delivery. The greatest challenge is to try writing the lyrics of a song; this is called transcription skill which can easily be used to make money online. First, start with relatively slow songs such as ballads then gradually try faster songs such as RnB and Rock 'n Roll till you reach rap music. Rap music will be your ultimate test. Enjoy while listening and remember to sing the ones your really like to develop your skills in delivery.

Teaser ON!

Now that you have experienced the need to stress specific key word/words in each sentence, try incorporating what you have learned now while reading. Remember that this is already the third, just one more and you are all set for the entire package deal! Good luck and have fun while learning!

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