English Speech Structure

To speak really clear English, it is essential that your stress, rhythms and structures are accurate and well constructed. Spoken English is constructed of strong and weak forms, although this is not clear on the written page. In the following sentence, the weak sounds are underlined:

1. 'Are you from Germany?' - click here to listen

If we change the structure of this sentence, we can change the meaning:

2. 'Are you from Germany?' - click here to listen

Notice here how the word 'from' has changed in pronunciation (see the IPA transcription next to it). There are two further possibilities in this sentence:

3. 'Are you from Germany?' - click here to listen
4. 'Are you from Germany?' - click here to listen

Look at the IPA transcription for the word 'are' in sentences 1 - 3. This is called a 'schwa' and it is the most common vowel sound in English. In these sentences, 'are' is weak. In sentence 4, however, 'are' is strong and the pronunciation has changed.

In the Course

In studying structure, we must also consider how words are joined together, how they may contract and also how they may change in different parts of a sentence. The course covers this in the following order:


Chapter Structure
1 Introduction
2 Schwa
3 Function Words


5 Contractions
6 Prominence
7 Compounds
8 Shifting Stress

Free Sample

Download a free sample of 'An English Accent' coursebook with audio as a pdf by clicking here.