PTE Speaking (English) - 4 word stress rules to improve pronunciation score

Oral fluency and pronunciation are critical to get the 79+ score in PTE speaking. Most non-native speakers struggle with pronunciation and are not confident if they are pronouncing correct, which in turn impacts their oral fluency as well. Word stress is an important area to consider when we talk about pronunciation. In this blog, I will share four simple word stress rules, which can help you pronounce most words right.

What is word stress?

Word stress means emphasizing the correct syllables in a word. Word stress is critical to communicate clearly, and incorrect emphasis can make the speaking incomprehensible to a native speaker.

What is a syllable?

A syllable is a unit of pronunciation having one vowel sound, with or without surrounding consonants.


1 syllable word: Dog

2 syllable word: Begin (Be/gin)


One word (or meaning) can have one word stress. The change of word stress can change the meaning of the word.


PREsent (noun), meaning a gift, has word stress at the beginning. Whereas, preSENT (verb), meaning to offer, has word stress in the second syllable.


Where to put the stress on a word can be a bit confusing for non-native speakers. See the three words below, all with different stress.

PHO/to/graph                   pho/TO/graph/er                    Pho/to/GRAPH/ic

Correct word stress is learnt mostly by experience. However, the four simple rules shared below can help you to say most words with the right stress.


4 Rules of word stress


1. Stress the first syllable of most two-syllable nouns and adjectives.

    Example: CLI/mate (noun), Ex/port (noun), CLE/ver (adj), HAP/py (adj)


2. Stress last syllable of most two-syllable verbs.

    Example: de/CIDE, be/GIN


3. Stress second-last syllable of words ending in “ic”, “sion” or “tion.

   Example: geo/GRAPH/ic, di/MEN/sion, ex/TRAC/tion


4. Stress the third-from-last syllable of words ending in “cy”, “ty”, “phy”, “gy” or “al”.

   Example: de/MOC/ra/cy, tech/NO/lo/gy, CRI/ti/cal


You can also watch my video, explaining the points mentioned above: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1G3crwTdVU&feature=youtu.be


Here is a quiz to practice word stress & syllables:  (select Topic as English-> sub-topic as Syllables and word stress)




Please note there are several exceptions to these as well but learning the four rules shared will help you pronounce most of the words.


All the best for your exam!



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