BASIC RULES of word stress
place the tonic accent on multi-syllable words in English.
rules do not cover all the aspects of word stress in English; but they
do cover the
large majority of
plurisyllabic words in the language.
Should you say: difficult
or difficult ? And why?
Here are the six essential rules that determine how words are stressed
or accentuated in
word is normally
stressed on the first
there is a reason to put the stress somewhere
"reasons" are either suffixes
ex- or in-).
The "-ion" rule: takes priority over all other rules.
(ending) starts with the
the position of stress in a word. [Exceptions: the endings -ist, -ism,
-ize and -ing.]
-uous, -ial, -ient, -ious, -ior, -ic, -ity, etc.
stress comes on the syllable
are only a very few
exceptions to this rule.
the stress of a word. Sample
-er, -ed, -ist, -ing, -ism, -ment
Words beginning with: a- ab- be- con- com- de- dis- e- ex- in- im-
and to which rule 3 does not apply.
► Prefixes in
in some nouns
to de'fend, to
contract, to import,
to permit, to record
Two-syllable nouns starting with a prefix
need to be learned individually.
There is no rule
nouns / adjectives: An
a contract, a permit,
concise but complex,
but a report,
but a record,
in three-syllable words.
stressed in three-syllable
They are not always
stressed in verbs
which need to be learned individually
and adjectives : Accident, confident,
decadent, exercise, infamous,
to consider, to
but to complicate, to 'indicate
syllable verbs ending in -ate
are stressed on the first syllable.
over all others, notably when a "rule
ending" is followed by a "rule
perpetually, deliciously, conditional, conditioner,
of rules is not
but it does
explain where to place the main accent in the
majority of words in English.
Generally speaking, these rules are very easy to apply. There are
however some word families where it is necessary to take care. The
classic example of this is the family of words based on the root noun nation.
The main stress will be on different syllables depending on the way the
word ends; what is important to remember, however, is that the rules
above apply in each case.
nation, national, nationally,
you situate the tonic syllable (main stress) in these words
obey the rules?
England, Edinburgh, region, regional, economic, to
complain, community, to refuse, considering.