To communicate clearly when you are speaking in English, it’s important to stress the correct syllables in each word. This is called word stress, which means pronouncing one syllable of a multisyllabic word with greater emphasis (stress) than the other syllables in the word. Here are four general rules to keep in mind about word stress as you practice pronunciation:

Stress the first syllable of:Most two-syllable nouns (examples: CLImate, KNOWledge)Most two-syllable adjectives (examples: FLIPpant, SPAcious)Stress the last syllable of:Most two-syllable verbs (examples: reQUIRE, deCIDE)Stress the second-to-last syllable of:Words that end in -ic (examples: ecSTATic, geoGRAPHic)Words ending in -sion and -tion (examples: exTENsion, retriBUtion)Stress the third-from-last syllable of:Words that end in -cy, -ty, -phy and -gy (examples: deMOCracy, unCERtainty, geOGraphy, radiOLogy)Words that end in -al (examples: exCEPtional, CRItical)

Keep these simple rules in mind and you will soon find your pronunciation getting better and better!