Rhythm in Sentences

2/16/2020

 

Spoken English has a rhythm to it. Stressed syllables are said longer, louder, and with higher pitch, and unstressed syllables are shorter, softer, and at a lower pitch. It is this back-and-forth between stressed syllables and unstressed syllables that gives English its unique rhythm and flow.

 

To get a better feel for the rhythm in spoken English, let’s do a musical activity. I have a metronome app on my phone, and I’ll set it to 90 beats per minute. I’m going to read a variety of sentences while the metronome keeps the beat, and I’ll maintain the same rhythm and beat for each sentence.  Only the important words will receive the beat.

 

TAKE BREAK

TAKE a BREAK

i TAKE a BREAK

i wanna TAKE a BREAK

i’m TAKEing a BREAK

she’s TAKEing a BREAK

 

 

CLEAN ROOM

CLEAN your ROOM

please CLEAN your ROOM

would you CLEAN your ROOM

i’m CLEANing your ROOM

he’s CLEANing your ROOM

 

 

WALK STORE NOW

WALK to STORE NOW

WALK to the STORE NOW

i’ll WALK to the STORE NOW

i wanna WALK to the STORE NOW

let’s WALK to the STORE right NOW

 

 

BAKE GOOD CAKE

BAKE a GOOD CAKE

i BAKE a GOOD CAKE

i’d like to BAKE a GOOD CAKE

he BAKEs a GOOD CAKE

he’s BAKEing a GOOD CAKE

he’s BAKEing a GOOD-tasting CAKE



HELP CLEAN MESS

HELP me CLEAN MESS

HELP me CLEAN this MESS

would you HELP me CLEAN this MESS

you’re HELPing me CLEAN this MESS

you’re HELPing me CLEAN up this MESS



In that exercise, you should have noticed that only the important words received the stress, or the beat. Those words carried the meaning in the sentence, and they are called the content words. Content words include nouns, main verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and Wh-words. 

 

Let’s review the sentences from the first exercise, and I’ll identify the content words in the sentence:



TAKE and BREAK  are the content words in these sentences. TAKE is a main verb and BREAK is a noun. And now listen to how I say the sentence without the metronome. 

 

TAKE a BREAK

i TAKE a BREAK

i wanna TAKE a BREAK

i’m TAKEing a BREAK

she’s TAKEing a BREAK





And let’s look at one more of the sentences and identify the content words:



HELP CLEAN MESS - HELP is a main verb, CLEAN is a main verb, and MESS is a noun.

 

Now listen to how I read these sentences without the metronome.

 

HELP me CLEAN MESS

HELP me CLEAN this MESS

would you HELP me CLEAN this MESS

you’re HELPing me CLEAN this MESS

you’re HELPing me CLEAN up this MESS

 

Thanks so much for watching! Let me know if you’d like some help with sentence rhythm in American English!



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