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Francisco Zabala - 2014

Sentence Stress

In their citation form, every word has a lexical stress or more. However,
when they occur in context some of them are not stressed at all and may
even take a weak vowel (i.e. .?+ h+ t+ H+ T.). It is convenient to think that
there are two classes of words: those that carry more meaning and those
whose function is more grammatical and less loaded with information.
Imagine that you get these two text messages: which is the more

The second message, though ungrammatical, is meaningful. If we assemble

the two messages together and read the text aloud, we can see that those
meaningful words retain their stress.

We need some cash

for the new phone

Content or Lexical Function or Grammar

- More information W - Less information
- Keep their stress - Unstressed (if monosyllabic)
Nouns R Conjunctions
Adjectives Auxiliaries
D Pronoun
Adverbs S Prepositions

1. Read this conversation. Underline all the content words.

ROB: I was sure I that I had my licence with me...
SAM: I can help you look for it. When did you see it last?
ROB: Not for some days. I have been driving very little. There is a lot of traffic, so I try
not to drive into town.
SAM: I see. Do you take a bus or the tube?
ROB: Either. I think that public transport is better for the environment... and cheaper
than a car park!

2. Look at these highlighted words from the text and choose the correct alternative:
a. Was in line 1 rhymes with: Oz fuzz neither.
b. Can in line 2 rhymes with: man American bun barn.
c. For in line 3 rhymes with: four chauffeur neither.
d. That in line 6 rhymes with: Albert hat heart.