You are on page 1of 1


Francisco Zabala - 2014

Word Stress
Due to rhythmical reasons, the vowels in Spanish and English words behave in a different way. Thus, it is important
for Spanish speakers to focus on some strong tendencies which will better their performance in English. Let us
compare the Spanish word entretenido and its English counterpart entertaining. In Spanish, the stress pattern is

Entretenido Zdms3dsd!mhCn\
The English pattern is quite different. There is a very strong syllable before the primary stress which should not be
overlooked. A stress, be it primary or secondary, requires a strong vowel.

Entertaining Z$dms?!sdHmHM\ (not *Z?ms?!sdHmHM\)

The Teutonic Rule

The Teutonic Rule asks for an obligatory stress in either the first or the second syllable, i.e., there cannot
be two initial unstressed syllables in English. This is challenging for Spanish speakers, whose language
allows several unstressed initial syllables.

Garden .!f@9cm. Person .!o29rm. Using .!it9yHM.

Believe .aH!kh9u. Decide .cH!r`Hc. Result .qH!yUks.

What happens with longer words? First of all, spot the primary stress. If it is neither on the first or second
syllable, we need to find the secondary stress. The next two rules come to our rescue!

The Rule of Alternation

The Rule of Alternation comes in handy at this stage. It can help the learner to predict the stressed syllables in a
polysyllabic word. There is a strong tendency to alternate strong and weak syllables, so if the primary
stress falls on the third syllable, the first one is likely to bear a secondary stress. Conversely, if the primary stress falls
on the fourth syllable, it is the second one that is likely to carry the secondary stress. Be on the alert: there are several

University .$it9mH!u29r?sh. Conversation .$jPmu?!rdHRm.

Adolescence .$zc?k!drmr. Demonstration .$cdl?m!rsqdHRm.
Pronunciation .oq?$mUmrh!dHRm. Abbreviation .?$aqh9uh!dHRm.
Enthusiastic .Hm$Sit9yh!zrsHj. Evaluation .H$uzkt!dHRm.

The Rule of Derivation

The Rule of Derivation can help you spot the secondary stress of a word. Many English words are derived from other
words. If the primary stress is moved more than one syllable when an affix is added, the stressed syllable in the
original word may be likely to become a secondary stress:

Pronounce .oq?!m`Tmr. Pronunciation .oq?$mUmrh!dHRm.

Generous .!cYdmq?r. Generosity .$cYdm?!qPr?sh.