Accented Syllables

In all dialects of English, the pattern of pronunciation depends not only on the sounds of the vowels and consonants, but also on the stress each syllable receives when pronounced. A syllable that is stressed in pronunciation is called an accented syllable.

The accent often changes the meaning of words which otherwise would be pronounced or even spelled alike. The word object when accented on the first syllable is a noun; when accented on the second syllable it is a verb.

Here is another subtle example:

A crow is a black bird.
(Accent both black and bird.)

A crow is not a blackbird.
(That is, a species of bird called blackbird. Accent black.)

All English dictionaries show the accented syllables in their pronunciation keys, usually with an acute accent mark (). See also Syllable.


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