How can I choose the correct syllable to stress in an English word? It is well known that English is not one of those languages where the stressed syllable can be chosen very easy. At the beginning of 2013 I studied French for several months and almost always the last syllable of the word is stressed in French language. I know that most of European languages have simple rules related to stress syllables within the word.
In order to find out what is the best way to choose the correct syllable to stress in an English word; I decided to find information on the internet. Searching, researching, and reading made me realize that this is a very complex matter and many specialists in phonology consider stress a property of the individual word and it should be learned when the word itself is learned. I have to tell you that I completely agree.
However, there are rules regarding to stress placement within the word and someone would be more comfortable to learn these rules; but bear in mind that rules have exceptions and I strongly believe that learning the stress for each word individually is more appealing idea.
Note: Of course, there are exceptions!
Two-syllable adjectives are stressed in the same way two-syllable verbs are.
Divine /dɪˈvaɪn/ – the second syllable contains a long vowel so it is stressed.
Correct /kəˈrɛkt/ – the second syllable ends with two consonants so it is stressed.
Hollow /ˈhɒl oʊ/ – the second syllable contains oʊ so the first syllable is stressed. Of course, there are exceptions!
With nouns things are a little bit different. The two-syllable nouns usually have the second syllable stressed. However, there is one general rule. If the second syllable contains a short vowel then the stressed syllable will be the first one (money /ˈmʌn i/).
Note: From the stress point of view, adverbs and prepositions behave like verbs and adjectives.