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Explain how the changes in intonation affect the meaning of the following sentences:

  • "My brother bought her a red dress."
  • "My brother bought her a red dress."
  • "My brother bought her a red dress."
  • "My brother bought her a red dress."
  • "My brother bought her a red dress."
  • All are valid depending on context. Welcome to EL&U. – Nigel J Mar 13 '18 at 17:15
  • 'My brother', 'bought her a red dress', and the whole sentence may also be stressed for emphasis. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 13 '18 at 17:40
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    What do you suspect? Is there a particular case that you take issue with? Each emphasis emphasizes the emphasized part. – Unrelated Mar 13 '18 at 18:29
  • It's not just intonation; in English, it's intonation and contrastive stress, which means the boldface syllable is not only higher-pitched, but also louder. – John Lawler Mar 13 '18 at 19:20
  • You're not curious about "My brother bought her a red dress," or "My brother bought her a red dress"? – spoko Mar 13 '18 at 22:38
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Stressing a word beyond the normal sentence stress of most any language means “this and not somebody/something else” and makes it topical.

My brother bought her a red dress.
It was my brother (not someone else’s) who bought her a red dress.

My brother bought her a red dress.
It was my brother (not someone else) who bought her a red dress.

My brother bought her a red dress.
My brother didn't steal, borrow, or otherwise acquire the red dress other than purchasing it.

My brother bought her a red dress.
My brother bought her a red dress, not some other color.

You get the idea.

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