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Types of Sentence - stress

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There exist three types of sentence-stress:

1.normal (syntactical) sentence-stress;

2.logical sentence-stress;

3.emphatic sentence-stress.

1. Normal sentence-stress is used to arrange words into sentences or intonation groups phonetically. Together with the lexical and grammatical means it expresses the general idea of the sentence and indicates its communicative centre. The nuclear syllable is generally associated with the last content (notional) word of the intonation group.

Sentence-stress in English is related to rhythm. It substantiates the rhythmical structure of the sentence. To make the intervals between the stressed segments regular notional words often lose their normal stresses (but never have weak forms!) as a tendency to avoid two consecutively stressed syllables is found in English. For the same reason the form-words may receive stresses. This realization of normal stress is called rhythmic stress.

e.g. He is ↘very well - to - ֻdo. He is ˈquite well - to - ֻdo.


In English notional words are stressed as a rule (nouns, adjectives, main verbs,

numerals, adverbs, demonstrative and interrogative pronouns, absolute form of possessive

pronouns, interjections, etc.), whereas form-words (articles, prepositions, conjunctions,

particles, personal pronouns and simple form of possessive pronouns, auxiliary and modal

verbs in affirmative sentences, link-verbs) are unstressed.

2. The position of the last sentence-stress determines the place of the nucleus of the communicative centre. By shifting the position of the last stress we can change the place of the nucleus of the communicative centre.


ˈNelly ˈspoke to him ֻyesterday. (not today) He ˈwent to ˈMoscow by ֻair. (not by land)
ˈNelly ˈspoke to ֻhim yesterday. (not to her) He ˈwent to ֻ Moscow by ˌair. (not to Kyiv)
ˈNelly ֻspoke to him yesterday. (not phoned) ‘He went to ˌ Moscow by ˌair. (not she)
ֻNelly ˌspoke to him ˌyesterday. (not Bob) He ˈwent ֻ to Moscow by ˌair. (not from)

Logically different messages are expressed in the given sentences. Each shifting of the stress modifies the meaning of the sentence. The type of sentence-stress which gives special prominence to a new element in a sentence or an intonation group is called logical stress. The word which is singled out by the logical stress is the most important in the sentence and is called the communicative (logical) centre of the sentence which bears the terminal tone.

Any word in a sentence including form-words, personal and possessive pronouns, auxiliary and modal verbs may become the nucleus of the communicative centre of the sentence and may be logically stressed as carrying new information.


Due to a great number of analytical forms of many grammatical categories in English logical stress on auxiliary, modal and link verbs is much more frequently used than in Ukrainian where the grammatical categories of tenses and aspect are mostly formed syntactically.

e.g. ROLF: You ˈought to be ֻ just, Jill.

JILL: I ֻ am just.

The attitude of the speaker underlined by logical stress in English, is expressed with the help of he lexical means in Ukrainian, mainly he words дійсно, ж, etc.,

Cf. For ֻgive me, ,Hank, ∣ but you ֻhave changed.

Вибач мені , Ханк, але ти дійсно змінився.

( J. Galsworthy. “Plays”)

The utterances having the logical stress are called marked or emotionally coloured.

4.Most human utterances express not only the speaker’s thoughts, but also his feelings and attitudes to reality and to the contents of the sentence. Both normal and logical stresses can be unemphatic and emphatic.Emphaticstress increases the effort of expression. Emphatic stress manifests itself on the High Fall or the Rise-Fall of the nuclear syllable. Emphatic stress is a powerful expressive means. It is the highest degree of logical and emotional prominence of words in a phrase.

e.g. They were de‘lighted to ˌsee dear ˌSoames after this ˈlong, ˈlong ֻtime…

( J. Galsworthy. “In Chancery”)

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