Syllabification and word stress

A syllable is a unit of sound. It can be a vowel , a diphthong, or one or more vowels combined with one or more consonants .

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Single-syllable words can be formed using one letter or many letters.


In most English dictionaries, words that are more than one syllable are divided by a dot or space between the syllables.

Click on the example words to hear the difference between words with one, two, three, and four syllables.

1 2 3 4
through ex · it po · ta · to in · cred · i · ble

Syllable Stress

English words that are polysyllabic (have more than one syllable) always have one syllable that is stressed. In most English dictionaries, the stressed syllable is indicated by a stress mark, a symbol that resembles an apostrophe. The stress mark follows the syllable that is stressed.

For example, in the word incredible, the second syllable (-cred-) is stressed. Here are some examples.

2 3 4
ex it op po · site Feb ru · ar · y
hu mid ex · am ine in · cred i · ble
ma · chine em · ploy · ee psy · cho lo · gy

In English, most two-syllable nouns are stressed on the first syllable.

A pril car rot hon or fa ther
Mon day le mon e vil Mar y

Putting stress on the correct syllable is especially important for words that are both nouns and verbs. Usually, if the stress is placed on the first syllable it is a noun. If the stress is placed on the second syllable it is a verb.

noun verb
con test con · test
de fect de · fect
in sert in · sert
ob ject ob · ject
pre sent pre · sent
pro test pro · test
re call re · call
re cord re · cord

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1 comment for “Syllabification and word stress

  1. viswanath
    13 March 2015 at 03:02

    Awsome answer . I really mean it . I don’t know how to mark stress for some words . Now I feel very happy . Thank you a lot .

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