Sentence stress is the music of spoken English. Like word stress, sentence stress can help you to understand spoken English, even rapid spoken English.
Sentence stress is what gives English its rhythm or “beat”. You remember that word stress is accent on one syllable within a word. Sentence stress is accent on certain words within a sentence.
Most sentences have two basic types of word:
- content words
Content words are the key words of a sentence. They are the important words that carry the meaning or sense—the real content.
- structure words
Structure words are not very important words. They are small, simple words that make the sentence correct grammatically. They give the sentence its correct form—its structure.
If you remove the structure words from a sentence, you will probably still understand the sentence.
If you remove the content words from a sentence, you will not understand the sentence. The sentence has no sense or meaning.