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 exit potato incredible

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
exit opposite February
humid examine incredible
machine employee psychology

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

April carrot honor father
Monday lemon evil Mary

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
contest contest
defect defect
insert insert
object object
present present
protest protest
recall recall
record record

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1 Response

  1. viswanath 13 March 2015 / 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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