How To Tackle Word Stress In English (WAEC, JAMB)


Are you finding it hard to understand and answer questions on word stress or syllable stress in English?

In this lesson…

You will learn the simple rules for answering questions on word stress in your JAMB and WAEC English test of oral exam.


ALSO SEE: How To Answer Questions On Emphatic Stress

Take note.

A link for you to practice exam past questions on word stress is included at the bottom of this lesson.

1. First syllable from the back

Words (3 syllables or more) that ends with these suffixes below are stressed on their first syllable from the back.

SuffixExample(s)Word stress
—eeabsentee
nominee
ab-sen-TEE
no-mi-NEE
—eervolunteervo-lun-TEER
—adelemonadele-mo-NADE
—eseTogoleseTo-go-LESE
—ooncartooncar-TOON

2. Second syllable from the back

Words (3 syllables or more) that ends with these suffixes below are stressed on their second syllable from the back.

SuffixExamplesWord stress
—ionrevelation
television
re-ve-LA-tion
te-le-VI-sion
—icplatonicpla-TO-nic
—blerelatable
irresistible
re-la-TA-ble
i-re-sis-TI-ble
—iancivilianci-VI-lian
—ialfinancialfi-NAN-cial
—iaNigeriaNi-GE-ria
—entingredientin-GRE-dient
—ousreligious
righteous
re-LI-gious
RIGH-teous
—ualunusualun-U-sual
—ishselfishSEL-fish
—sisdiagnosisdi-ag-NO-sis
—iveintensivein-TEN-sive
—tantmilitantmi-LI-tant

3. Third syllable from the back

Words (3 syllables or more) that ends with these suffixes below are stressed on their third syllable from the back.

SuffixExamplesWord stress
—tyclarity
maternity
CLA-ri-ty
ma-TER-ni-ty
—cydemocracyde-MO-cra-cy
—gygeologyge-O-lo-gy
—fyqualify
personify
QUA-li-fy
per-SO-ni-fy
—phyphotographypho-TO-gra-phy
—sycontroversycon-TRO-ver-sy
—ise
—ize
advertise
apologize
AD-ver-tise
a-PO-lo-gize
—ateevaporatee-VA-po-rate
—almaternalMA-ter-nal

4. Fourth syllable from the back

Words (usually more than 3 syllables) that end with the suffix below are stressed on their fourth syllable from the back.

SuffixExamplesWord stress
—smtribalism
revivalism
TRI-ba-li-sm
re-VI-va-li-sm

5. Last syllable from the back

Words (3 syllables or more) that ends with these suffixes below are stressed on their very last syllable from the back.

SuffixExamplesWord stress
—lyorderly
disorderly
OR-der-ly
DIS-or-der-ly
—ermanagerMA-na-ger

6. Words with two syllables

VERBS of two-syllable are stressed on their first syllable from the back, while NOUNS of two-syllable are stressed on their second syllable from the back.

TypeExamplesWord stress
Verbrelaxre-LAX
NounpurplePUR-ple

NOTE some words are exceptions, meaning that even when they fall into the categories above, their stress patterns may differ.

Classwork

Click on the link below to practice real past questions on Word Stress now.

Practice Test

Do you have something to ask on this word stress? Comment below and a staff or fellow ACADite will reply you.


16 responses to “How To Tackle Word Stress In English (WAEC, JAMB)”

  1. yaqubzubeidah@gmail.com avatar
    yaqubzubeidah@gmail.com

    Schwa sounds are they the exceptions?

  2. Zubeidah avatar
    Zubeidah

    Please can you talk about schwa sounds

  3. Blessing avatar
    Blessing

    From my understanding,does it mean word stress have to do with for example education. The stress is e-DU-cation, when you pronounce a word the point where much pressure is used?

  4. Ben avatar
    Ben

    Good job

  5. Mercy avatar
    Mercy

    Pls what’s the stress for disagreement

    1. Toppers Staff avatar

      Hi, Mercy
      It should follow Rule 2.

      dis-a-GREE-ment

  6. HADI avatar
    HADI

    what of word with ory like participatory

    1. Toppers Staff avatar

      Hi, Hadi.
      It should follow Rule 3.

      pa-ti-ci-PA-to-ry

  7. ABDULLAH avatar
    ABDULLAH

    Sir pls where is the strees on Satisfactory placed

    1. Toppers Staff avatar

      Hi, Abdullah.

      It should follow Rule 3 and be on the THIRD syllable from the last.

      sa-tis-FAC-to-ry

  8. Oluwafenwa avatar
    Oluwafenwa

    Hi sir/ma.
    What if we have a word like CULTISM (which does not have a fourth syllable), where is the stress going to be?
    Thank you.

    1. Toppers Staff avatar

      Hi, Oluwafenwa.
      Good question.

      I think it will still fall under the same rule of “—ism” and so the stress would be on the first syllable “CUL—”

      1. Na avatar

        Are there no exceptions for these rules?

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