Word Stress Rules: Guide & Examples

Today you are going to learn some simple tips to learn more about what syllables are stressed and which ones aren’t.

In English, we do not accentuate every Syllable in a word, we accentuate only one syllable.

For  example

  1. Teacher
  2. Plas-tic

Stress can be found in any syllable but it depends on the characteristics of the word.

Some people rely on experience  but not  all of us  can rely on  it  and  that’s why we  learn  the  word stress  rules  or  we succeed  with  a  combination  of experience and rules

What You Should Know

  1. To understand word stress, it helps to understand what syllables are.
  2. Every word is made from syllables.
  3. Each word has one, two, three or more syllables.
  4. The words are divided according  to its pronunciation

One syllable : Dog
Two syllables : or-ange
Three syllables : Ex-pen-sive
Four syllables: In-te-res-ting

Word Stress Rules

Let’s Remember that:

  1. One  word  has  only one stress syllable.
  2. We stress vowels and not consonants.

In my own experience  as a  university  student I  studied  the  rules  for stressing   words  and I practiced stressing  the most common  words  then I verified them in my  dictionary.  You will  probably find one  of these  two ways as  indication  of  word stress in  your own dictionary.

Plas-tic : /plæs’tIk/

Plas-tic : /’plæs tIk/

  1. Asleep
  2. Awake
  3. Relate
  4. Return

Word Stress Rules with Different Syllables

The Stress is in the syllable  before the  ial, ual, ian, ient, cious, tious, ic, ible, ity, tion , logy , graphy , meter or sion sound

Dictation Stress
  1. Communication
  2. Instruction
  3. Television
  4. Dictation
  5. Memorial
  6. Visual
  7. Politician
  8. Sufficient
  9. delicious
  10. Edible
  11. Classify
  12. Biology

Word Stress Before the -er Sound

The Stress is in the syllable before the er sound

Reporter Stressed
  1. Reporter
  2. Presenter
  3. Destroyer
  4. Teacher

Word Stress and Syllables ending in cy,  -phy and -gy

The Stress is two syllables before the -cy,  -phy and -gy sound.

Democracy Stress
  1. Democracy
  2. Geology
  3. Photography

Word Stress and Compound Nouns

The  Stress is on the  first part of compound nouns

Underworld Stress
  1. Blackbird
  2. Greenhouse
  3. Bedroom
  4. Sunrise
  5. Underworld
  6. Underwear
  7. Haircut
  8. Breakfast

Word Stress and Compound Verbs

Compound verbs are stressed in the second part

Understand Stress
  1. Underline
  2. Overturn
  3. Overflow
  4. Understand
  5. Underscore

Word Stress Quizzes

Click  on the  following  external links  to  know more  about

  1. word stress rules: Word stress rules
  2. word stress quiz: word stress quiz

Word Stress Games

These are two websites with some to make learning word stress easiers

  1. Use this activity to test your knowledge of Word Stress

Word Stress Worksheets

These are some worksheets that will help you test what you already know about word stress

  1. Word Stress Worksheet
  2. Word Stress Placement Exercise
  3. Stress Patterns Quiz

More Information

Check these resources before you go

  1. Pronunciation: List of Minimal Pairs
  2. List of Homophones [Infographic]
  3. 3 ways to Pronounce the Final S
  4. 30 Great English Tongue Twisters
  5. 8 Best English Pronunciation Apps
  6. 6 Best Pronunciation Websites
  7. Full Guide to English Pronunciation
Manuel Campos, English Professor

Manuel Campos

I am Jose Manuel, English professor and creator of EnglishPost.org, a blog whose mission is to share lessons for those who want to learn and improve their English