Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Difference between Word Stress and Sentence Stress

Dear Readers,

Stress is the force with which we pronounce a syllable in a word . A syllable may consist of a single vowel or a combination of two vowels called diphthongs or it may consist of a vowel or diphthong in combination with one or more consonants .

An English word may be divided into a number of syllables .All syllables do not get the same degree of stress . One syllable gets the maximum degree of stress called the primary stress .and the remaining syllables get varying degrees of stress This is the phonic identity of that word . Thus the word examination has five syllables and the primary stress is on the syllable - na -

What happens to a syllable when it is stressed?

1 It has greater duration

2 it has greater resonance /

3It has greater loudness or volume

What happens to unstressed syllables?

The vowel or diphthong in unstressed syllables becomes the central vowel sound such as you can hear as the first syllable in words like a-bout or a-round.

This phenomenon is called vowel reduction

However, when words are put together in sentences they may lose their phonic identity . English does not like two stressed syllables coming close together. In such situations a word may lose its stress distribution pattern Which syllable will lose its stress depends on the speaker's meaning .

The word English normally has stress on the first syllable . But in the phrase English Channel it may lose its stress.because Channel has stress on the first syllable . Adjectives normally are stressed words, but in the phrase Old English it loses its stress because English has stress on the first syllable .

Please remember that Stress-Time Rhythm is a fundamental feature of English speech and word stress must make way for it !

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

How to Improve Your English Skills

Dear readers,

When you learn English ,your aim is to learn it fast . It is possible to learn English faster if you adopt modern scientific methods of learning it . Unfortunately, out-dated grammar- translation method is still used in several countries . This method may have certain advantages over other methods , but it is unsuitable for the needs of the present world where speaking and listening skills are more important than the traditional skills , namely, writing and reading skills .

You are learning English to speak it . Righr? Then you are on the right track. Speaking skill is the primary skill to be acquired , particularly in the context of globalization . Its complementary skills is listening skill .

While learning to speak English , the first thing for you to be on the guard against is Mother -tongue Interference Never ever speak English with the rhythm your first language ! I have heard several learners complain that the native speakers of English speak English too fast and so they are not able to follow them . I must say that this is a wrong impression The truth is that you cannot follow them because you have not familiarized yourself with the Stressed-timed rhythm of English ! What is stressed-timed rhythm?

The native speakers of English have a tendency to put stress on certain words or syllables in their sentences and slur over other words and syllables . The stressed syllables or words come at regular intervals of time
Then what about the unstressed words or syllables in between them ? Well, they are slurred. , That is, they are rapidly pronounced or drawled . This ensures regularity of rhythm . This is the stressed- timed rhythm of E nglish . You have to become familiar with this rhythm in order to follow English spoken by native speakers .

I these days of satellite television a learner can improve his / her listening and speaking skills by listening to TV serials and newscasts . When you have doubts about the pronunciation of a word , consult a good pronouncing dictionary .

Remember, English is an international language ! You can't speak it with the rhythm of your first language . Your English must conform to an accepted standard , British or American . A good English pronunciation is a must for success in the present globalized world .It is the key to success!

I wish you all success in your efforts to learn English!

Thank you for visiting!


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Verbs followed by Gerunds

Dear Readers,

While speaking and writing English , you may have come across situations in which one verb follows another as its object . In such situations you may have to choose either to-infinitive or gerund

In today's post I propose to give a list of very commonly used verbs which are followed by gerunds ,along with illustrative sentences :

1 avoid

You should avoid making friends with bad people .

2 consider

I will condider accepting your offer .

3 delay

Don't delay seeing a doctor anymore !

4 dislike

I dislike talking with opinionated people .

5 enjoy

I enjoy listening to good music .

6 finish

She has finished cooking

7 imagine

I can't imagine doing such a wicked thing .

8 keep

She kept singing though her time was up .

9 mind

I don't mind vacating my seat for you .

10 stop

It stopped raining

Please remember that phrasal verbs end in preposition or adverb particles and hence they are followed by gerunds

1 Don't put off meeting a good doctor !

2 He gave up drinking .

3 She went on dancing though she was tired.

4 I look forward to seeing you soon .

5 She left off reading when I entered the room .

N.B verbs confess and admit are often followed by preposition+ gerund

She confessed to knowing little about current events

He admitted to having a secret relationship with that girl .

Enough for gerunds!

Thank you foy visiting !

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Proper Nouns vs Common Nouns

Dear Readers,

The English word "proper" is taken from a Latin word which means "own" .So, proper nouns refer to the "own" names of persons and places . These names are specific to the individual person or place . and not shared by a class of entities . For example, John is the name of an individual person and , therefore, it is a proper noun . It is the "own" name of a person . Similarly, Cochin is the "own" name of a city Therefore, john and Cochin are proper nouns .

Please remember that proper nouns are capitalized and they are not usually preceded by the definite article the

Common Nouns , on the contrary, are names of a class of persons or places . For example the name "city" is shared by several entities . Hence, "city" is a common noun . Similarly, " .boy" is a common noun .

There will be a corresponding common noun for every proper noun.

Example :

proper noun( common noun )

John ( boy)

Jane ( girl)

London ( city)

India ( country )

The distinction between proper nouns and common nouns is a useful one for learners of English , but don't stretch it too far !

I will carry on the discussion on classification on nouns in my next post


Thank you for visiting !

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Tense of the Verb in Question Tags

Dear Readers,

This is the concluding part of my posts on Question Tags . The English question tag baffles non-native learners of English because the English people conceive of their question tags as interrogative versions of the statement, cut short after the pronoun -subject . But in several languages of Europe and India the question tag is conceived in a different way . The set phrase in these languages is "isn't it?", the it in it refers to the fact contained in the statement .Example

She is a nice girl, isn't it ?

(isn't it a fact that she is a nice girl )

The English , on the contrary, use a truncated question as question tag

She is a nice girl, isn't she?

An important thing to note here is the tense of the auxiliary in question tags . It varies according to the tense of the verb in the statement . Note these examples

1 She was a charming girl, wasn't she ?

2 He will come tomorrow, won't he ?

3 She has finished her job, hasn't she?

4 They are watching television , aren't they?

5 He returned home yesterday, didn't he ?

Enough for Tag Questions! Iwill continue the discussion in my next post

Thank you for visiting !

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Question Tags for Imperative Sentences

Dear Readers,

An imperative sentence , as you know, is a sentence that makes a request or a command The subject of an imperative is often omitted . It is because the subject is always the second person pronoun "you" .I am giving below a few examples for imperative sentences :

1. Shut the door .

2. Get out of here!

3. Pass the salt , please.

4. Obey my orders.

5. Stop smoking.

The question tag or tag question that goes with imperative sentences normally is "will you ?""


1. Shut the window , will you?

2 Stop talking, will you?.

3 Help me , please, will you?

4. Bring me a glass of water, will you ?

5. Don't be cruel to him, will you?

Dear readers , the concluding part of my lessons on question tags will be published in my next post .

Thank you for visiting

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Formation of Question Tags in English

Dear Readers,

I have been discussing different aspects of question tags in my previous posts . In this post I would like to discuss the structure of question tags which is the despair of ESL learners !

Basically an English question tag consists of an operator followed by the relevant pronoun of the subject of the statement to which it is attached .

The operator may be an auxiliary verb , a dummy auxiliary verb or some form of the verb be.

While in other languages like the languages of India or French the question tag is a set phrase or a single unchanging word , the English question tag keeps changing its form according to the subject of the statement , the tense of the verb and the positive or negative character of the statement it is attached to . This is because the English conceive of their question tag as the interrogative version of the statement , cut short after the pronoun-subject .

It is quite natural that non-native users of English find English question highly devious and cumbersome ; and they are more comfortable with the honest "isn't it?"" for all kinds of statements!

I will continue the discussion in my next post.

Thank you for visiting!