How SENTENCE STRESS changes meaning in English

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How SENTENCE STRESS changes meaning in English

What is sentence stress? How does it change the meaning of a sentence? In this video, I will teach you how saying a word louder and longer in a sentence can change the sentence’s meaning. Many English learners don’t listen for sentence stress and as a result, they don’t fully understand what someone is saying. I will teach you how to recognize sentence stress and how it can change meaning. Then we will practice listening to sentences with different word stress and examine their meanings together. I’ll share many examples so you’ll be able to hear how native speakers use sentence stress, and how you can do it too! At the end of this video, you can practice more with our quiz at https://www.engvid.com/sentence-stress-english/

TRANSCRIPT

Hello. My name is Emma and in today’s video I am going to teach you how to become a better listener, and I’m going to do that by teaching you about something called “Sentence Stress”. Okay? So I want you to think about the times you’ve listened to English, maybe in a movie, maybe you saw a movie, or maybe a TV show – was there ever a time where you didn’t understand something? Maybe everybody laughed, maybe somebody suddenly got angry and you felt like you missed some of the meaning to why something happened. It might be because you’re not listening enough to sentence stress.

So, what is sentence stress? Well, let me show you. When we talk about stress in language, we’re talking about making something louder and longer. Okay? So, for example, if I say the number “thirteen” versus “thirteen”, even though they sound similar, they’re different because I’ve put a different stress or a different emphasis on each part of the word. So this is in part a pronunciation lesson, but also really about listening and how to listen better.

So I have here a sentence: “I love studying English.” Now, it seems like a pretty straightforward sentence, but I can actually change the meaning of this sentence using sentence stress. Okay? So, by saying different parts of the sentence louder and longer I can actually change the meaning. So I’m going to give you an example. “I love studying English.” What part did I say louder and longer? If you said: “I”, you’re correct, so I’m going to put a mark here to show sentence stress. “I love studying English.” If you heard somebody say this it means that I love studying English, but my friend doesn’t. Or I love studying English, but other people hate studying English. So I’m really emphasizing that I am, you know, maybe one of the only people. Okay? So, I love studying English.

Now, this is a bit of a different meaning than if we move the stress-so I’ll just erase that-to the word “love”. Okay? So I want you to listen to how I say this: “I love studying English.” So in this case “love” is the part I’m saying louder and longer. Okay? And now it has a different meaning. Even though it’s the same sentence, just by saying a different part louder and longer I’ve changed the meaning. So: “I love studying English.” What does that mean? If I’m focused on the word “love” it means I really want to emphasize that I don’t just like English, I love English. English is my passion. I love it. I really, really, really like it a lot. Okay?

Now, if we take the stress here and we move it to “studying”: “I love studying English”, okay? So now you hear “studying” is louder and longer, again, now we have a different meaning from when I said: “I love studying English”, “I love studying English”, “I love studying English”, each of these means a different thing. “I love studying English” means I only love studying English. I’m emphasizing maybe I don’t like using English, maybe I don’t like, you know, English in conversation. Maybe I only like reading my book about English, but I don’t actually like using it. Okay?

Now, if we change the stress to “English” and now “English” is going to be louder and longer… Okay? So, for example: “I love studying English”, “English” is louder and longer, now this has a new meaning, a fourth meaning. “I love studying English” means only English. Maybe I hate all other languages. I don’t like studying French, I don’t like studying Portuguese, I don’t like studying Arabic. I only like studying English. Okay? So, as you can see, the way we pronounce these sentences adds meaning to them. It’s not just the words that have meaning, it’s also the way we use our voice, our intonation.

Okay, so we’re going to do some practice listening. I’m going to say a sentence and you’re going to first listen to: What part of the sentence has the stress? What part of the stress is louder and longer? Okay? So let’s do that with the next sentence first. Okay? “I like your painting. I like your painting.” What part was the loud part? What part was the long part? “I like your painting.” If you said: “your”, you are correct. This part has the stress. Now, I have three different meanings that this sentence could mean. It could mean it’s an okay painting. Okay?

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