today I have a lesson in school about steps and glides and i didn't understand it.

My first question what are steps and glides? My second question is how do i know if the sentence ends with steps or glide?

Here are some example

she is friendly and outgoing.

the sentence ends with outgoing is it steps or glide and how do i know if it is steps or glide?

the second example

He is quiet and shy.

The word ends with shy is it steps or glide and how do i know if it is steps or glide?

  • 8
    Hmmm, as a native speaker of English I have no idea what steps and glides are in this context. I’m not hopeful that you knowing will help you learn English either.
    – Jim
    Jul 1, 2015 at 21:27
  • 3
    Your first question is one we should be asking you, I fear. What are steps and glides? As far as I know, they are movements that you make with your feet—not things that you can end sentences with. If you didn’t understand what they were in class, you should ask your teacher. Jul 1, 2015 at 21:41
  • @JanusBahsJacquet steps are also elements of a stair.
    – phoog
    Jul 1, 2015 at 22:42
  • @phoog Yes, and many other things beside—but foot movement is the only context I can think of where something can be either a step or a glide. I thought first about glide vowels when I read the question, but I have no idea what step would be, then, and it doesn't really seem to fit the examples given either. Jul 1, 2015 at 22:45
  • @JanusBahsJacquet I thought the same. Then I did a little search. See my answer.
    – phoog
    Jul 1, 2015 at 22:50

2 Answers 2


According to http://www.pronunciationtips.com/syllables2.htm, steps and glides describe the nature of pitch changes in a sentence, for example, the falling tone at the end of a declaration. The rule, which I evaluate as a native speaker and it seems entirely plausible, is that at the end of a sentence, the pitch glides downward if the last word is a single syllable or is a multisyllabic word with stress on the final syllable. The pitch steps down when the stress is on a syllable other than the last.

In your examples, shy is a one-syllable word, and outgoing is a three-syllable word with stress on the first or second syllable (see comments). Therefore, shy is a glide and outgoing is a step.

  • Great answer, except that I would stress the first syllable of outgoing. Jul 2, 2015 at 0:37
  • @PeterShor you have filled me with self doubt. I would certainly stress the first syllable if the meaning were "the opposite of incoming" but I could go both ways with this sense. It doesn't affect the analysis of glides and steps, though. I will edit.
    – phoog
    Jul 2, 2015 at 4:25

Just a guess, but it sounds like your teacher is trying to describe some aspect of how English "flows".

"He is quiet and shy"

has short step-like syllables while

"She is friendly and outgoing"

seems to run more smoothly together to my ears (gliding) - but I have no idea how this would be useful except for poetry.

I do not recognize the terms "steps" and "glide" in an English learning sense. If no better answers appear you may have to ask your teacher for clarification. (and that is what they are there for!)

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