How to Learn Sentence Stress

Sentence Stress is golden key number two for speaking and understanding English. With Sentence Stress, some words in a sentence are "stressed" (loud) and other words are weak (quiet). Look at the following sentence: We want to go.

Do we say every word with the same stress or force? No! We make the important words big and the unimportant words small. What are the important words in this sentence? Yes, you're right: WANT and GO.
  • We WANT to GO.
  • We WANT to GO to WORK.
  • We DON'T WANT to GO to WORK.
  • We DON'T WANT to GO to WORK at NIGHT.
It's impossible to explain everything about Sentence Stress in this article. The important thing for you is that you know it exists and try to learn about it. Sentence Stress is very important!

Students sometimes say: 'I don't listen to the BBC news on the radio because it's too fast for me and I can't understand it.' That's a pity! When it's too fast for you, when you can't understand it, that is exactly when you NEED to listen to it!

How can you improve if you don't listen and practise? When you were a baby, did you understand your own language? When you were 3 weeks old, or 2 months, or 1 year, did you understand everything? Of course not! But you learned to understand by listening.

Think about it. You learned to understand your own language by listening, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. After that, you learned to speak. Then you learned to read. And then you learned to write. But listening came first!

Don't Listen!
Earlier on, I said LISTEN! Now I say DON'T LISTEN! What do I mean? Do you know the difference between the verbs TO LISTEN and TO HEAR? TO LISTEN is active.

TO HEAR is passive. Sometimes you can LISTEN too hard. Sometimes you can TRY too hard. Sometimes it is better only to HEAR. Let the radio play. Let the cassette play. But DON'T listen. Just HEAR. Your subconscious will listen for you. And you will still learn.

If you listen and try to understand, you may block on one word and get frustrated. Don't worry! Just HEAR! Believe me, you will still be learning. The important thing is to let the radio or cassette or television or record PLAY. Let it play. And you - you do nothing. Your brain will HEAR, your subconscious will LISTEN and you will LEARN!

Quote of the Day: "There is nothing so useless as doing effiiently that which should not be done at all."—Peter Drucker

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