1

I'm struggling to understand the sentence stress in the following sentences:

  • Why don’t we watch a comedy film? I'm pretty sure that 'don't', 'watch', 'comedy', and 'film' are stressed; why is a wh-question so it should be stressed as well, but when i repeat the sentence in my mind it sounds very odd. Any opinion?
  • Let’s watch a horror film. Again, I'm pretty sure that 'watch', 'horror', and 'film' are stressed; is 'let's' a modal or an auxiliary in this case? Anyway, I reckon it's unstressed, correct?
  • Shall we have lunch together today? 'lunch', 'together', and 'today' are stressed; 'shall' is a modal auxiliary, so it doesn't. 'have' is the main/lexical verb so it should be stressed but, again, when i repeat the sentence in my mind it sounds very odd. what do you think?
  • We could meet in the lobby at noon. The stress is on 'meet', 'lobby' and 'noon'. 'could' is unstressed. Correct?
  • How about eating something? 'eating' and 'something' are stressed. How is a wh-question, so it should be stressed but according to this resource (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnJCKda4oWU&list=WL&index=3&t=142s), it is not. What's the correct sentence stress?

Thanks for helping!

  • Who told you that how, why, when should be stressed in questions? – Peter Shor Feb 17 at 23:01
  • I'd pronounce it Shall we have LUNCH toGETHer toDAY. You don't stress have because it's a relatively unimportant verb, and it's right before a stressed syllable. But if it was Shall we HAVE an esPRESso toGETHer, I'd put some stress on have, because otherwise you would have five unstressed syllables in a row. – Peter Shor Feb 17 at 23:12
  • 1
    Similarly, in Why don't we watch a comedy film, the tendency would be to either stress why or don't, but not both. And in We could meet in the lobby at noon, you would stress either could or meet, but not both. – Peter Shor Feb 17 at 23:16
  • @PeterShor My teacher. Plus, several internet sources like this one: blog.esllibrary.com/2015/11/26/sentence-stress – Pehnt Feb 17 at 23:18
  • By the way, thanks for the help. Really appreciate it. – Pehnt Feb 17 at 23:22
0

Spoken stress is about emphasis:

He: Of course it's a drama. We never watch a comedy film.     
She: WHY don't we watch a comedy film? Or,   
She: Why DON'T we watch a comedy film? 

Both of the above "she" sentences have the same import.

He: The Joneses watch a lot of comedy films.      
She: Why don't WE watch a comedy film?

He: I'm in a bad mood.
She: Why don't we watch a COMEDY film? 

I don't hear "watch" being stressed except when there is nothing else to stress, in which case the neutral default of (very slightly) stressing the verb would apply. Here's more.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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