This has been a question in my mind for quite a long time, and I can't help but wonder are all words with stress in their second part pronounced the same all the time? For example, OK, because, etc. I find it a little unusual to say 'That's bi'ka:z' rather than 'That's 'bika:z'. The same is true about 'OK'. Are there any conventions or rules about pronouncing such words? Or are they pronounced always the same way?

P.S. By being pronounced always the same way, I mean, are the words that have stress in the middle (according to dictionaries) always pronounced with stress on the middle part as in because and OK or might they be pronounced with stress on their first part as well?

  • 2
    1) No two people have the exact same pronunciation. 2) No individual pronounces a given word exactly the same every time. Consider the child who doesn't want to get up and go to school: "I'm too tirrreeedddd." And the one who doesn't want to go to bed: "I'm not tyrt!"
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 12, 2017 at 13:57
  • Do you mean is the dress the same or is the viwrl reduced always to a schwa or what (it is unclear what you mean about 'same').
    – Mitch
    Commented Mar 12, 2017 at 15:18
  • @Mitch, you are right, I did not probably made it clear. I'll edit the the post. Commented Mar 12, 2017 at 22:37
  • 1
    "Because", in particular, is apt to be pronounced several different ways. In rapid speech it would often be "b-cuz", with near equal emphasis on both ends. But when asserting a "fact" one would be apt to say "be-CAUSE". There are a lot of English words with a strong tendency to change like this, depending on context.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 12, 2017 at 23:17

1 Answer 1


No, there is a systematic tendency to move the end stress of words when this avoids two stressed syllables coming next to each other. A typical example is the change from "I love Chinese" to "I love the Chinese language". This is sometimes attributed to a rhythm rule (in The Sound Pattern of English), to alternating stress, or other causes.

There is a large literature on this, for instance Hayes (1984).

  • 1
    @JasonStack Two things you should note: 1) OK/okay is variably stressed—the stress can fall on either syllable, or indeed on both syllables. 2) While because may take part in the tendency Greg mentions here, the context you gave is not one where it would. “That's because” naturally has the second syllable stressed—moving it up would actually result in two stressed syllables next to each other, which is what we tend to want to avoid. Commented Mar 12, 2017 at 23:12
  • @JanusBahsJacquet so is there a problem with stressing both syllables? And what do you mean by moving it up? Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 0:14
  • 1
    @Jason In OK, there is no problem. Both syllabels are frequently stressed. In because, only one syllable is stressed, and it’s usually the second one. By “moving it up”, I mean “moving the stress up to the first syllable”. Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 0:39

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.