Improve Your English Pronunciation - Compound Word Stress Lesson

I’m back again with a little pronunciation lesson! Today I want to talk about stress in compound words. A compound word is when two words come together to form a new word (like “lighthouse”).

We’re focusing on compound nouns, adjectives and verbs today. Each of these generally has a different pattern for stress. Stress is the emphasis we give parts of words or sentences. We say it a bit stronger than the rest. It’s really important to get this right to sound natural.

Don’t worry if you can catch the stress perfectly. Just try to mirror and copy the way I’m saying it and you’ll be fine.

Compound Nouns

With compound nouns, the stress normally comes on the first part of the word. I’ve underlined the area that should be stressed.

Seaweed

Greenhouse

Sat Nav

Supermarket

Seatbelt

Blackbird

Compound Verbs

With compound verbs, the stress normally comes on the final part of the word. I’ve underlined the area that should be stressed. There are quite a few exceptions though (like ‘skydive’)

Understand

Overbook

Overflow

Compound Adjectives

With compound adjectives, the stress normally comes on the first part of the last word. I’ve underlined the area that should be stressed. Can you think of any more?

Big-headed

Old-fashioned

Tight-fisted

Bad-tempered

Can you think of any more examples of compound verbs with this stress pattern?

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