One of the reasons that non-native speakers struggle to sound natural in English is that they have trouble hearing the natural rhythm of the language.
A key element of producing the natural rhythm of English is word stress.
In my series on vocabulary, I emphasize that word stress is the very first thing you should pay attention to when learning new words.
Word stress is essential for pronouncing words correctly and speaking more clearly.
When you start paying more attention to word stress, your ear will start to identify stress patterns.
You’ll start noticing the different types of stress that native speakers use when they’re talking.
And as you advance, you especially want to pay attention to words in phrases or “chunks.”
Remember, we don’t usually use words on their own; we usually say them in entire phrases, chunks, or sentences.
For this reason, it’s important to pay attention to word stress, but then go a step further: you must also notice how each word works together with other words in order to create the rhythm of English in your sentences.
It may be frustrating to learn that native speakers produce these stress patterns without even thinking about it – it’s second nature!
But the good news is that you can learn these stress patterns in order to speak English more like a native English speaker. 👍
In this video, we’re going to discuss common phrases that use the word “and.”
“And” phrases contain a consistent, recognizable stress pattern that you can learn and practice so that you start sounding more natural in English.
As we go through the examples, think of other related phrases with “and” that you often use in your work or everyday life.
Food Phrases with “And”
Let’s start out with some common food phrases connected by the word “and.”
For example, consider the phrase bread and butter (listen for the pattern at 1:33). 🍞
We pronounce “bread and butter” like this: bread n BUT-ter. (In these examples, I mark the stressed syllable by putting it in capital letters.)
If you put extra stress on the word bread, and less stress on butter, it sounds weird! (Listen to the video to hear the difference!)
Another common phrase is cream and sugar (1:50): cream n SU-gar. 🥛
On the weekends, you may be enjoying wine and cheese (1:57): wine n CHEESE. 🍷
Or you may decide to go have a burger and fries (2:02): bur – ger n FRIES. 🍟
Some people really like the flavor combination called sweet and sour (2:08): sweet n SOUR. 🍯
As you probably have noticed, all of these phrases use a recognizable stress pattern that native speakers will produce automatically.
If you practice these examples, it will help you create the natural rhythm of English.
People and Animal Phrases with “And”
Now let’s talk about a couple of phrases related to people.
We often talk about the difference between the rich and poor (2:28): rich n POOR. 💰
Or you may talk about people’s heights, such as your friends who are tall and short (2:34): tall n SHORT. 👩👦
We often discuss the differences between men and women (2:43): men n WO-men. 👫
Or boys and girls (2:48): boys n GIRLS. 👦👧
If we’re talking about our animal friends, we may compare cats and dogs (2:53): cats n DOGS. 😺🐶
Are you starting to hear the pattern in these phrases?
Musical Phrases with “And”
Last but not least, let’s talk a little bit about music. 🎶
A lot of people really enjoy rock n roll (3:07): rock n ROLL. 👨🎤
Or they may like R&B (3:13): arr n BE. 🎷
(R&B is short for rhythm and blues, but most people call it R&B music.)
For even more examples, check out this article on 29 must-know binomial expressions (and how to use them).
As you can see – or better yet, hear – this particular pattern will help you sound more like a native speaker.
If you switch around the stress, it’s going to sound unnatural.
The phrase won’t sound exactly the way a native speaker would say it or expects to hear it (which makes it harder for us to understand you!).
Now it’s your turn! Can you think of any other phrases that follow this stress pattern?
Leave a comment below and let me know. Then be sure to practice saying the phrase with the correct stress pattern!
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