Chapter 5. Speaking Skills – Communicative English for Engineers and Professionals


Speaking Skills

In this unit

“Our accent and our speech generally show what part of the country we come from and what sort of background we have.”


–Ralph W. Emerson

5.1 Introduction

Despite being a small minority, the speakers of English in India are those individuals who lead India’s economic, industrial, political, professional and social life. English is no longer a second language for them rather it is a medium in which a great number of interactions take place. In recent years, English has gained a lot of importance among the educated class, particularly the youth, who appears to be using it as a mother tongue and not as a foreign or a second language. Young Indians “think of English as an empowering skill, like Windows, and are comfortable mixing it with their mother tongue.” (Gurcharan Das) This has led to the usage of the language such as Hinglish (Hindi + English), Tamlish (Tamil + English), Benglish (Bangla + English), etc. Mixing English with mother tongues has been going on since pre-independence days. In spite of the great stress on good English in higher circles in India, the accent varies greatly from those learning pure English to those learning Indian-language-tinted speech. All native languages of India lack the sound /ʒ/ and substitute it with /dʒ/ or /z/. Subcontinentals do not differentiate between /v/ and /w/ and ‘wine’ is pronounced as ‘vine’. In some parts of the Northern India, people tend to double the consonants whenever they are spelled double like, ‘happy,’ ‘butter,’ ‘little’ and many more. South Indians curl their tongue more on the sounds /l/ and /n/, Biharis substitute /dʒ/ for /z/ and in Bhojpuri, all instances of /ʃ/ are spoken as /s/. The following lines of Kamla Das from her poem “An Introduction” express the way and pattern of English speaking in India:

…. The language I speak

Becomes mine, mine alone. It is half English, half

Indian, funny perhaps, but it is honest,

It is as human as I am human ….

The problem arises when these people face interviews, attend conferences or seek higher jobs in their own country as well as in other countries where use of such language is considered faulty and a sign of incomplete or poor education. The youngsters who get so much used to speaking English with regional pull find themselves at a loss to understand what the correct pronunciation is and how it can be acquired.

The fact is there is nothing like correct pronunciation as the pronunciation of English varies not only in India due to regional languages but also among the English-speaking countries such as America, Australia, Canada, Scotland, Britain and Northern Ireland. One particular accent called ‘Received Pronunciation’ (RP) has been accepted as ‘accepted’ or ‘standard’ pronunciation. ‘Accepted’ or ‘standard’ pronunciation is clearly understood by the people whereas ‘unaccepted’ pronunciation creates ambiguity. For example, those who cannot differentiate between /dʒ / and /z/ will not be able to pronounce ‘Siege’ and ‘Seize’ clearly. To acquire standard English pronunciation, fluency and accent, you should have knowledge of basic phonetics—English sounds, word accent, weak forms and intonation.

5.2 IPA Symbols of ‘Received Pronunciation’

5.2.1 ‘Received’ or ‘Accepted Pronunciation’

Received pronunciation (RP), popularly known as ‘the Queen’s English’ or ‘BBC English,’ is the accent of Standard English in England. The early use of the term can be found in H. C. Wyld’s A Short History of English (1914) and in Daniel Jones’s An Outline of English Phonetics. The word ‘received’ conveys its original meaning of ‘accepted’ or ‘approved.’ Traditionally, ‘RP’ was the everyday speech in the families of Southern England where menfolk were educated at well-known public boarding schools. Received pronunciation is an accent or a form of pronunciation, rather a dialect or a form of vocabulary. Sometimes, it is referred to as ‘Oxford English’ as well. This is not because it was traditionally the common speech of the city of Oxford, but specifically of the Oxford University and the production of dictionaries gave Oxford University prestige in the matters of language. The versions of the Oxford English Dictionary give ‘RP’ guidelines for each word.


A Chart of IPA Symbols

5.2.2 IPA Symbols

Effective speaking is difficult without the knowledge of basic English sounds. There are 44 sounds in English—20 vowels sounds and 24 consonant sounds. These sounds are represented by International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) symbols, which are used to transcribe sounds, words and sentences of any language phonetically. The symbols and the transcription of words are conventionally written within the slashes to distinguish them from the rest of the text. English Consonants

Consonants are produced when the speech organs form an obstruction to the stream of breath. English consonants can be categorized as ‘voiced’—articulated with simultaneous vibration of the vocal cords—/d/, /b/, /g/, /dʒ/, /v/, /ð/, /z/, /ʒ/, /m/, /n/, /ŋ/, /l/, /j/, /w/, /r/ (all vowels are voiced) and ‘voiceless’—articulated without simultaneous vibration of the vocal cords—/p/, /t/, /k/, /tʃ/, /f/, /θ/, /s/, /ʃ/, /h/.

  1. /p/ Generally represented by the spellings—p, pp, phpin, map, period, partial, poor, pale, happy, sloppy, copper, dipper, shepherd.
  2. /b/ Generally represented by the spellings—b, bbbid, bear, obey, tribe, bread, shrub, blind, bulb, beam, ribbon, rubber, dubbed, clubbed.

    Comparison of /p/ and /b/:


    Pill – Bill

    Pulp – Bulb

    Simple – Symbol

    Peach – Beach

    Played – Blade

    Pore – Bore

    Cup – Cub

    Pack – Back

    Patter – Batter

    Rope – Robe

    Lap – Lab

    Pull – Bull

    Pest – Best

    Pin – Bin

    Palm – Balm


  3. /t/ Generally represented by the spellings—t, ttteam , tribe, obtain , take, trade, atlas, truth , matter, butter, bitter, chatter, litter.
  4. /d/ Generally represented by the spellings—d, dd —sad, cried, afraid, garden, badly, demand, drive, dozen, middle, sudden, shudder, plodded.

    Comparison of /t/ and /d/:


    Ton – Don

    Hit – Hid

    Water – Warden

    Built – Build

    Tin – Din

    Bet – Bed

    Ten – Den

    Plot – Plod

    Latter – Ladder

    Let – Led

    Writer – Rider

    Height – Hide

    Metal – Medal

    Petal – Pedal

    Shutter – Shudder

    Tore – door

    Two – Do

    Dose – Toes


  5. /k/ Generally represented by the spellings—k, c, ck, ch, cc, qu, x—keen, kite, cut, can, thick, sick, Chemist, cholera, account, accuse, question, queen, taxi, box.
  6. /g/ Generally represented by the spellings—g, gg, gh, xgate, green, beg, grass, greet, beggar, ragging, ghost, aghast, exist, example.

    Comparison of /k/ and /g/:


    Class – Glass

    Bicker – Bigger

    Rusk – Rug

    Lacked – Lagged

    Crew – Grew

    Came – Game

    Echo – Ego

    Coal – Goal

    Lack – Lag

    Leak – League

    Cot – Got

    Tack – Tag


  7. /tʃ/ Generally represented by the spellings—ch, s + ion, t + urechair, choice, charm, catch, batch, question, suggestion, feature, torture, fixture.
  8. /dʒ/ Generally represented by the spellings—j, g, dg, gg, di, djjump, jug, germ, urgent, huge, judge, ridge, suggest, suggestive, soldier, adjust, adjoining .

    Comparison of /tʃ/ and /dʒ/:


    Choke – Joke

    Larch – Large

    Batch – Badge

    Lunch – Lunge

    Perches – Purges

    Chest – Jest

    Cheer – Jeer

    Chin – Gin

    Char – Jar


  9. /m/ Generally represented by the spellings—m, mmmanner, matter, mustard, smoke, commit, community, drummer, slimmer, trimmer.
  10. /n/ Generally represented by the spellings—n, nn—run, knit, sign, needle, sneeze, conduct, banner, running, fanning, sunny.

    Comparison of/m/ and /n/:


    Maim – Name

    Simmer – Sinner

    Some – Son

    Seem – Scene

    Met – Net

    Mock – Knock

    Melt – Knelt

    Mum – Nun

    Boom – Boon

    Dim – Din

    Same – Sane

    Mere – Near

    Scream – Screen

    Deem – Dean

    Gleam – Glean

    Moon – Noon

    Smack – Snack

    Sum – Sun


  11. /ŋ/ Generally represented by the spellings—ng, nk, nc, nch, nx—thing, finger, language, think , ankle, uncle, anchor, anxiety, anxious.

    Comparison of /n/ and /ŋ/:


    Thin – Thing

    Banner – Banger

    Mountain – Mounting

    Kin – King

    Sin – Sing

    Run – Rung

    Din – Ding

    Ran – Rang

    Pin – Pang

    Ban – Bang

    Clan – Clang

    Comparison of /ŋ/ and /ŋg/:


    Longing – Longest

    Singer – Finger


    Comparison of /ŋ/ and /ŋk/:


    Thing – Think

    Bang – Bank

    Hang – Hank


  12. /f/ Generally represented by the spellings—f, ff, gh, phfat, file, father, offer, offence, laughter, rough, photo, trophy.
  13. /v/ Generally represented by the spellings—v, f, (only ‘of ’) ph (only ‘nephew’)—vain, vein, vanish, canvas, vowels, believe, very, silver.

    Comparison of /f/ and /v/:


    Fail – Veil

    Few – View

    Fairy – Vary

    Fear – Veer

    Focal – Vocal

    Fast – Vast

    Surface – Service

    Belief – Believe

    Fine – Vine

    Comparison of /f/ and /p/:


    Fat – Pat

    Fail – Pale

    Fast – Past

    Fall – Pall

    Feel – Peel

    Four – Pour

    Fool – Pool

    Fill – Pill


    Comparison of / b/ and /v/:


    Bat – Vat

    Best – Vest

    Bent – Vent

    Buy – Vie

    Bold – Volt

    Ban – Van

    Bane – Vein

    Beer – Veer



  14. /θ/ Generally represented by the spelling—‘th’—thin, thought, through, threw, ethics, bath, cloth, faith, length, method.
  15. /ð/ Generally represented by the spelling—‘th’—that, this, these, them, they, either, neither, leather, brother, although, thence.

    Comparison of /θ/and /ð/:


    Thigh – Thy

    Ether – Breather

    Comparison of /t/ and /θ/:


    Tank – Thank

    Tick – Thick

    Tree – Three

    Trust – Thrust

    Taught – Thought


    Comparison of /d/ and /ð/:


    Day – They

    Dare – There

    Dose – Those

    Dense – Thence

    Load – Loathe

    Ladder – Leather

    Dine – Thine

    Den – Then



  16. /s/ Generally represented by the spellings—s, ss, sc, c, xsee, same, loss, dress, scene, ascent, fancy, icy, tax, exercise.
  17. /z/ Generally represented by the spellings—z, zz, s, ss, xzeal, graze, craze, dazzle, puzzle, flimsy, reason, hesitation, scissors, dessert, exaggerate, example.

    Comparison of /s/ and /z/:


    Seal – Zeal

    Cease – Seize

    Niece – Knees

    Once – Ones

    Fancy – Pansy

    Peace – Peas

    False – Falls

    Sip – Zip

    Price – Prize

    Comparison of / dʒ/ and /z/:


    Sedge – Says

    Jest – Zest

    Gauge – Gaze

    Jones – Zones

    Junk – Zink

    Budge – Buzz

    Siege – Seize

    Rage – Raise



  18. /ʃ/ Generally represented by the spellings—sh, ch, sch, sci, s, ss, ti, ce, cishall, sharp, machine, moustache, schedule, schlep, conscience, conscious, Asian, sugar, pressure, assure, national, essential, ocean, oceanarium, special, crucial.

    Comparison of /s/ and /ʃ/:


    Sip – Ship

    Ass – Ash

    Suit – Shoot

    Soar – Shore

    Sun – Shun

    Same – Shame

    See – She

    Save – Shave

    Seer – Sheer

    Soap – Shop

    Said – Shade

    Self – Shelf

    Mess – Mesh




  19. /ʒ/ Generally represented by the spellings—si, s, z, ge—revision, decision, confusion measure, pleasure, visual, usual, seizure, azure, garage, sabotage, prestige,

    Comparison of /ʒ/ and /ʃ/:


    Pleasure – Pressure

    Vision – Fission

    Comparison of/z/ and /ʒ/:


    Bays – Beige

    Caesar – Seizure

    Composer – Composure


  20. /h/ Generally represented by the spellings—h, wh—hat, heat, hatred, ahead, happy, herbal, house, hairy, whose, whole, who.
  21. /l/ Generally represented by the spellings—l, ll—let, lime, light, lesson, lean, glass, canal, royal, resolve, allow, hill, yellow, fellow.
  22. /r/ Generally represented by the spellings—r, rr, rh, wrrace, rude, brave, radio, carry, hurry, carrier, arrive, rhyme, rhythm, rhea, rhetorical, write, wrought, wrinkle, wring.

    Comparison of / l/ and /r/:


    Lush – Rush

    Light – Right

    Lighter – Writer

    Lake – Rake

    Lies – Rise

    Alive – Arrive

    Light – Right

    Late – Rate

    Lice – Rice

    Low – Row

    Lain – Rain

    Load – Road

    Lead – Read

    List – Wrist



  23. /j/ Generally represented by the spellings—y, i, eau, eu, ew, ewe, ieu, iew, u, ueyet, yesterday, year, onion, opinion, beauty, eulogize, euthanasia, new, dew, ewe, lieu, review, unit, universe, value, argue.
  24. /w/ Generally represented by the spellings—w, wh, u, q + uwest, waist, winter, when, where, language, linguist, equal, square, question.

    Comparison of / w/ and / v/:


    Wail – Veil

    West – Vest

    Wet – Vet

    Wine – Vine

    Worse – Verse

    Whim – Vim

    Why – Vie

     English Vowels

Vowels are produced by the free movement of breath through the mouth. There are two types of vowels in English—pure vowels or monothongs and diphthongs.

Pure Vowels

  1. /iː/: Represented by the spellings—ay, e, ea, ee, ei, eo, oe, ey, i, ie, ae—quay, legal, be, bead, read, deed, see, perceive, seize, people, peon, foetus, foetal, key, geyser, unique, police, achieve, aegis, aesthetic.
  2. /l/: Represented by the spellings—a, ai, e, ee, ei, ey, i, ia, ie, o, u, ui, y—village, captain, pretty, ticket, coffee, foreign, storey, miss, marriage, ladies, women, busy, build, city.

    Comparison of /I/&:


    Hit – Heat

    Fit – Feet

    Bit – Beat

    Dip – Deep

    Lid – Lead

    Pick – Peak

    Sill – Seal

    Chit – Cheat

    Did – Deed

    Lip – Leap

    Chick – Cheek

    Knit – Neat

    Grin – Green

    Nil – Kneel

    Fill – Feel

    Sit – Seat

    Ship – Sheep

    Live – Leave


  3. /e/: Represented by the spellings—a, ai, ay, e, ea, ei, eo, ie, u, ue—many, said, says, bend, best, pleasure, wealth, leisure, leopard, friend, lieutenant, bury, guess.
  4. /æ/: Represented by spellings—a, ai—rat, matter, gap, ban, fan, man, damp, plait, plaid.

    Comparison of /e/ &/æ/:


    Bet – Bat

    Peck – Pack

    Bed – Bad

    End – And

    Men – Man

    Beg – Bag

    Bend – Band

    Led – Lad

    Lend – Land

    Dead – Dad

    Beck – Back

    Said – Sad

    Pen – Pan

    Pet – Pat

    Vet – Vat

    Kettle – Cattle

    Guess – Gas

    Merry – Marry

    Comparison of /e/, /æ/, /i/ & /iː/:

  5. : Represented by the spellings—o, oo, ou, u—woman, wolf, look, took, hood, hook, would, should, pull, full.
  6. /u:/: Represented by the spellings—oo, u, ou, ui, ew, ue, wo—soon, boon, jute, rude, coupon, group, fruit, bruise, flew, grew, blue, true, two.

    Comparison of &/u:/


    Pull – Pool

    Full – Fool

    Soot – Suit

    Shook – Shoot

    Would – Wooed

    Stood – Stool

    Could – Cool

    Look – Loot

    Good – Goose

    Took – Tool

    Cook – Coolie

    Nook – Noon

    Foot – Food

    Put – Pooh!



  7. : Represented by the spellings—a (after ‘w’), au, o, ou, ow—watch, water, because, cauliflower, college, cobweb, cough, trough, knowledge.

    Comparison of &:


    Put – Pot

    Good – God

    Could – Cod

    Shook – Shock

    Nook – Knock



  8. : Represented by the spellings—a, ar, au, aw, oa, oar, oor, or, ore, ou, our—ball, call, warn, warden, caught, caution, shawl, laws, broad, boar, floor, shortage, store, thought, course.

    Comparison of &:


    Boon – Born

    Fool – Fall

    Shoe – Shaw

    Shoot – Short

    Pool – Paul


    Comparison of &


    Cot – Caught

    Not – Naught

    Pot – Port

    Cock – Cork

    Spot – Sport

    Chock – Chalk

    Stock – Stork

    Lost – Lord

    Bomb – Born

    Don – Dawn

    Hock – Hawk

    Rot – Wrough


  9. /ʌ/: Represented by the spellings—o, oe, oo, ou, u—son, month, does, flood, blood, young, double, must, fuss.
  10. : Represented by the spellings—ear, er, ir, or (preceded by ‘w’), our, ur—search, heard, perk, perfect, bird, shirt, word, work, journey, journal, nurse, church.

    Comparison of /ʌ/ &


    Hut – Hurt

    Cut – Curt

    Shut – Shirt

    Puck – Perk

    Bud – Bird

    Thud – Third

    Such – Search

    Ton – Turn

    Gull – Girl

    Luck – Lurk

    Bun – Burn

    Thud – Third

    Mutter – Murmur

    Fun – Fern



  11. : Represented by the spellings—a, ar, e, er, i, o, or, ou, ough, our, re, u, ur, ureabout, cassette, beggar, circular, problem, mother, sensible, polite, comfort, famous, thorough, neigbour, metre, suggest, surmount, measure.
  12. : Represented by the spellings—a, al, ar, au, uar, ear, er—pass, task, calm, balm, car, farm, laugh, aunt, guard, heart, sergeant.

    Comparison of , , &

Diphthongs:    A diphthong is a combination of two vowel sounds. Two dots (ː) are never used in diphthongs. The following diphthongs are used in English:

  1. /el/: Represented by the spellings—a, ai, ay, e, ea, ei, ey—bake, sake, vain, faith, train, tray, hay, clay, fete, great, break, weight, veil, grey, they.
  2. : Represented by the spellings—o, oa, oe, ou, ow, eau, ew, oo—go, home, boat, foam, toe, foe, mould, soul, slow, show, flow, plateau, beau, sew, brooch.
  3. : Represented by the spellings—i, is, ais, ei, eye, ie, uy, y, ye—like, bike, hike, high, island, aisle, either, neither, eye, lie, die, buy, guy, try, dry, bye, dye.
  4. : Represented by the spellings—ou, ow—house, round, found, clown, town, down, brown.
  5. : Represented by the spellings—oi, oy, uoy—toil, noise, boil, soil, coin, joy, employ, buoy.
  6. : Represented by the spellings—e, ea, ear, eer, eir, eo, ere, ia, ier, io, iou, iu—serious, period, idea, area, fear, rear, cheer, steer, weird, theory, theorem, sphere, here, India, fierce, pierce, impious, harmonium, gymnasium.
  7. : Represented by spellings—a, ae, air, ar, are, ear, eir, ere—Mary, scary, aerobics, aerospace, fair, pair, scarce, care, share, fear, tear, their, heir, there, compere.
  8. : Represented by spellings—oor, our, u, ua, ue, uou, ure—poor, moor, tour, gourd, jury, fury, usual, visual, cruel, fuel, tortuous, pure, procure, cure.

    Comparison of sounds – /ei/and /e/:


        Taste – Test

    Late – Let

    Gate – Get

        Date – Debt

    Raid – Red

    Mate – Met

        Pate – Pet

    Bait – Bet

    Eight – Ate

        Cane – ken

    Bade – Bed

    Tail – Tell

        Say – Said

    Bale – Bell






























Tear (n)

Tear (v)



Hair/ Hare


Fare/ Fair








Buy – Boy

Try – Troy

Ally – Alloy

Tie – Toy

Isle – Oil

Bile – Boil

Vice – Voice






Goat – Got

Note – Not

Own – On

Wrote – Rot

Road – Rod

Hope – Hop

Soak – Sock

Coat – Cot





Now – No

Bout – Boat

Howl – Whole

Gout – Goat

Out – Oat

Doubt – Dote

Foul – Foal



and /el/

Pair – Pay

There – They

Dare – Day

Hair – Hay

Rare – Ray

Bare – Bay

Stare – Stay



5.3 Phonetic Transcription Using Ipa Characters

5.3.1 What is Phonetic Transcription?

The word, ‘phonetic’ means ‘using special symbols to represent each different speech sound’ and ‘transcription’ refers to ‘something that is represented in writing.’ International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is used to represent the sounds of English language and is often useful in describing pronunciation patterns or transcribing the words phonetically. Phonetic transcription is, thus, a kind of alphabetical writing in which each phonetic alphabet represents each sound. English pronunciation cannot be understood by letters; therefore, knowledge of phonetic symbols along with an ability to transcribe them according to sounds may be very helpful in acquiring correct pronunciation along with understanding it. Every good dictionary contains correct pronunciation together with the spelling of a word. Nowadays, these dictionaries are available on CD ROMs as well as online and a learner can not only read the correct pronunciation of the word but may also have a direct access to the audio.

5.3.2 Purpose of Transcription

The purpose of phonetic transcription is to represent the pronunciation of a word, phrase or sentence unambiguously. Most of the dictionaries provide pronunciation of individual words. Phonetic transcription helps in correcting pronunciation and it enables us to compare the sounds of different languages as well as different varieties of the same language.

5.3.3 Guiding Principles for Correct Pronunciation/Transcription

English pronunciation creates a lot of problems for the non-native speakers. Some of these hurdles can be overcome, if we understand some guiding principles related to correct pronunciation, which will automatically lead to correct phonetic transcription of words as well: Silent Letters

1. b is silent in a word when it is preceded by‘m’ or followed by ‘t’ at the final position:

b is also silent in: subtle/sʌtl/, plumber/plʌmə/, bomber/bɒmə/, redoubtable/ridaʊtəbl/.

2. d is silent in a word when it is followed by ‘j’ or ‘g’ and in some other words like:

3. p is silent in a word when it is followed by ‘s,’ ‘t’ or ‘n’ at the initial position and in some other words such as:

p is also silent when it is followed by ‘t’ at the final position in the word: receipt/risiːt/.

4. g is silent when it is followed by ‘m’ or ‘n’ in the same syllable:

g is not silent when it is followed by ‘m’ or ‘n’ in different syllables:

5. h is silent when it is preceded by ‘g’ and at the final position:

6. k is silent in a word when it is followed by ‘n’ at the initial position:

7. l is silent in a word when it is followed by ‘k’ or ‘m’ and in some modal auxiliaries:

8. n is silent after ‘m’ when both of them occur in the same syllable:

➙ When combination of ‘n’ and ‘m’ occurs in two different syllables both the letters are pronounced:

9. t is silent when it occurs between‘s’ and ‘l’ and ‘s’ and ‘en’ or followed by ‘en’ in some words :

t is silent before ‘ch’ in most of the words:

t is also silent in many words of French origin:

10. w is silent at the final position. It is also silent at the initial position when it is followed by ‘r’ or sometimes when followed by ‘h’:

11. s is silent before ‘l’: Pronunciation of the Suffixes

1. Word endings —s, es, ’s—are pronounced/s/after/p/,/k/,/t/,/f/and/θ/:

-s, -es, ’s—are pronounced/z/ after/s/,/z/,/ʃ/,/Ʒ/,/ʧ/and/ʤ/:

-s, -es, ’s—are pronounced/z/after the rest of the sounds:

2. Word endings—-d, -ed—are pronounced/id/after/t/and/d/:

➙ -d, -ed—are pronounced/t/after/p/,/k/,/f/,/θ/,/ʧ/,/s/,/ʃ/:

➙ -d, -ed—are pronounced/d/after the rest of the sounds:

3. Word endings—-cial, -sial and -tial—are pronounced/ʃl/:

4. Word ending—-cian—is pronounced/ʃn/:

5. Word endings—-cious and—tious—are pronounced/ʃəs/:

6. Word ending—-stion—is pronounced/stʃən/:

7. Word ending—-age—is pronounced/idʒ/:

8. Word ending—-ate—is pronounced/ət/ in adjectives:

➙ However, in verbs—-ate—is pronounced/eit/:

9. Word ending—-tain—is pronounced/tein/in verbs:

-tain—is pronounced/tən/,/tin/or/tn/ elsewhere:

10. Word endings—-ance and -ence are pronounced/əns/whereas endings—-ant and -ent are

11. Word endings—est and -et are pronounced/ist/and/it/, respectively when they occur in an unstressed syllables: Spelling Sequence

1. ‘ng’:

➙ Spelling sequence ‘ng’ is pronounced as /ŋ/ at the final position:

➙ ‘ng’ is pronounced / ŋ/ at the medial position also if the word has been derived from a verb:

➙ ‘ng’ is pronounced/ ŋ/ only when the plural maker ‘s’ is added to nouns ending in / ŋ/:

➙ ‘ng’ at the medial position are pronounced as /ŋg/if the words are not derived from verbs:

➙ The sound / ŋ/ does not occur at the initial position. It occurs at the final position only after the short vowels: /i/, /e/, , /æ/ and /ʌ/:

2. ‘th’: Spelling ‘th’ is pronounced /θ/ or /ð/ but in English names it is pronounced as /t/:

3. ‘ch’: Spelling ‘ch’ may be pronounced /tʃ/, /k/ or /ʃ/:

4. ‘ss’: Spelling ‘ss’ may be pronounced /s/, /z/ or /ʃ/: Letters

1. ‘r’:

r is silent when it is preceded by a vowel:

r is pronounced when it follows a vowel:

r is also silent at the final position:

r is pronounced at the final position in phrases or compound words when the first element ending with ‘r’ is followed by a word beginning with a vowel sound:

2. ‘g’: ‘g’ may be pronounced/g/,/dʒ/or/ʒ/:

3. ‘t’: ‘t’ may be pronounced as/t/,/tʃ/or/ʃ/:

4. ‘s’: is pronounced as/s/,/z/or/ʃ/: Double Consonants

All double consonants except ‘cc’ are pronounced as single consonant sounds:

‘cc’ may be pronounced as/ks/when followed by ‘e,’ ‘i,’ or ‘y’ or/k/when followed by the rest of the letters: Sounds

1. /θ/ and /ð/:

➙ Many words have sound/θ/but with suffixes ‘s/es’ /θ/becomes/ð/:

➙ Some words have/θ/sound but their derivatives have/ð/sound:

2. /j/:

➙ /j/does not occur at the final position and after/dʒ/, /tʃ/and/r/:

➙ /j/does not occur after/l/when it is preceded by a consonant:

➙ /j/is pronounced when/l/is preceded by an accented vowel:


Transcribe the following words using IPA symbols:

Woman, bright , raise, address, deserve, palm, design, indict, twelfth, once, women, flower, waist, grams, fragile, cloud, aim, sheep, like, chalk, acquire, career, hurt, oblige, flake, authority, short, rhyme, record (v), single, thumb, deserve, wives, berth, guide, crowd, savage, mother, young, shoes, coil, long, tomb, title, cyst, relate, scarce, army, apple, home, clear, choice, boat, day, foot, give, saw, tour, good, slapped, bouquet, doubt, murder, gaining, liberate, coffee, pudding, school, applaud, polite, chapter, virtue, bird, family, wealth, hurry, hate, crawl, queen, running, single, wives, savage, export (v), battle, pool, shout.

5.4 IPA Transcription of Words Often Mispronounced

The following is the IPA transcription of words which are often mispronounced:


Ability /əbɪlətɪ

Academic /ækədemɪk/

Academician /əkædəmɪfn

Accept /əksept/

Accommodation /əkɒmədeɪIʃn

Adequate /ædɪkwət/

Advantage /ədvɒaːntɪdʒ

Advantageous /ædvənteɪIdʒəs/

Advertise /ædvətɒɪz

Advertisement /ədvɜ:tɪsmənt/

All /əaːl

Always /əaːlweɪz/

Analysis /ənæləsɪs

Analytical /ænəlɪtɪkl/

Apology /əpɒləIdʒɪ

Apple /æpl/

Assistance /əsɪstəns

Association /əsəʊʃIʃɪeɪIʃn/

Atmosphere /ætməsfɪə

Balcony /bælkənɪ/

Bear /beə

Birthday /bɜaːθdeɪ/

Breakfast /brekfəst

Breath /breθ/

Breathe /briaːð

Bowl /bəʊʃl/

Buffalo /bʌfələʊʃ

Calcium /kælsɪəm/

Calendar /kælɪndə

Call /kəaːl/

Captain /kæptɪn

Career /kərɪə/

Carrier /kærɪə

Cassette /kəset/

Celebrity /səlebrətɪ

Character /kærəktə/

Choreography /kɒrɪɒgrəfɪ

Cigarette /sɪgəret/

Clarity /klærətɪ

Colleague /kɒliaːg/

Committee /kəmɪtɪ

Compare /kəmpeə/

Compere /kɒmpeə

Competition /kɒmpətɪIʃn/

Competitive /kəmpetətiv

Competitor /kəmpetɪtə/

Concept /kɒnsept

Confusion /kənfjuːn/

Continue /kəntɪnjuː

Continuous /kəntɪnjʊʃəs/

Correspond /kɒrəspɒnd

Correspondence /kɒrəspɒndəns/

Crèche /kreIʃ

Cricket /krɪkɪt/

Crush /krʌIʃ

Data /deɪtə/

Demonstrate /demənstreɪt

Determination /dɪtɜːmɪneɪIʃn/

Determine /dɪtɜːmɪn

Develop /dɪveləp/

Dialogue /dɒɪəlɒg

Direction /dərekIʃn/

Director /dərektə

Dramatic /drəmætɪk/

Echo /ekəʊʃ

Embarrass /ɪmbærəs/

Enough /ɪnʌf

Enthusiasm /ɪnθjuːzɪæzəm/

Envelop /ɪnveləp

Envelope /envələʊʃp/

Environment /invɒɪrənmənt

Ethics /eθɪks/

Exact /ɪgzækt

Example /ɪgzɒːmpl/

Except /ɪksept

Expect /ɪkspekt/

Executive /ɪgzekjətɪv

Extempore /ekstempərɪ/

Faculty /fækltɪ

Formality /fəːmælətɪ/

Garage /gærɒːʒ

Gigantic /dʒɒɪgæntɪk/

Government /gʌvənmənt

Guarantee /gærənti:/

Guardian /gɒːdɪən

Hair /heə/

Hare /heə

Heart /hɒːt/

Here /hɪə

Indecisive /ɪndɪsɒɪsɪv/

Interrogative /ɪntərɒgətɪv

Leisure /leʒə/

Loose /luːs

Lose /luːz/

Loss /lɒs

Maroon /məruːn/

Measure /meʒə

Memento /məmentəʊʃ/

Memory /memərɪ

Menace /menəs/

Mutual /mjuːtIʃʊʃəl

Negative /negətɪv/

Observe /əbzɜ ːv

Obvious /ɒbvɪəs/

Olympic /əlɪmpɪk

Omelette /ɒmlət/

Onion /ʌnjən

Opportunities /ɒpətjuːnətɪz/

Oven /ʌvn

Pain /peɪn/

Pan /pæn

Parents /peərənts/

Patriotism /peɪtrɪətɪzəm

Patron /peɪtrən/

Pen /pen

People /piːpl/

Photograph /fəʊʃtəgrɒːf

Photographer /fətɒgrəfə/

Photography /fətɒgrəfɪ

Pizza /piːtsə/

Plumber /plʌmə

Police /pəliːs/

Political /pəlɪtɪkl

Pollution /pəluːIʃn/

Positive /pɒzətɪv

Posture /pɒstIʃə/

Potential /pətenIʃl

Precious /preIʃəs/

Preference /prefrəns

Pretty /prɪtɪ/

Priority /prɒɪɒrətɪ

Privacy /prɪvəsɪ/

Pronunciation /prənʌnsɪeɪIʃn

Psychological /sɒɪkəlɒdʒɪkl/

Psychologist /sɒɪkɒlədʒɪst

Psychology /sɒɪkɒlədʒɪ/

Quality /kwɒlətɪ

Question /kwestIʃən/

Quiet /kwɒɪət

Quite /kwɒɪt/

Receipt /rIsiːt

Repetition /repətIIʃn/

Resume (n) /rezjumeI

Resume (V) /rIzuːm/

Said /sed

Saturday /sætədeI/

Says /sez

Secretary /sekrətrI/

Sewing machine /səʊʃiŋ məIʃiːn

Shepherd /Iʃepəd/

Shoulder /Iʃəʊʃldə

Soldier /səʊʃldʒə/

Success /səkses

Suggestion /sədʒestIʃən/

Thorough /θʌrə

Tortoise /təːtəs/

Vehicle /viːəkl

Village /vIlIdʒ/

Wallet /wɒlIt

Want /wɒnt/

Wool /wʊʃl

Wednesday /wenzdeI/

5.5 Word Stress

“Give me the right word and the right accent and I will move the world.”


–Joseph Conrad. (a personal record)

Word stress is the key to understand spoken English. Native speakers of English use it naturally. When non-native speakers talk to native speakers, both of them find it difficult to understand each other. The situation becomes worse when the inhabitants speak fast, fluent and conversational English. Especially in a multilingual country like India where so many languages are spoken with so much variation in accent, it is very difficult to acquire standard accent. Nevertheless, we cannot ignore the fact that word stress is an important feature of spoken English. Complete and correct pronunciation means both articulating the sounds correctly and placing the stress at the right place.

5.5.1 What is a Syllable?

To understand word accent, we should first know what is a syllable? A sound is the smallest unit of spoken English. The combination of sounds makes a syllable and the combination of syllables makes a word. Each syllable has one vowel sound and may have one or more consonant sounds. A word can have one, two, three or more syllables. Syllabic division is marked by a hyphen (-):

  • Monosyllabic words:
  • Disyllabic words:
  • Three syllabic words:
  • Words with four or more syllables:
  • Consonants, ‘m,’ ‘n,’ and ‘l’ have sonority compared to that of some vowels. They are called syllabic consonants and they function as syllables in words such as:

5.5.2 What is Word Stress?

In English, we do not say each syllable with the same force, strength or emphasis. We accentuate on a particular syllable, that is, all the syllables combined into a word are not uttered with the same degree of prominence. We say one syllable very loudly and all the other syllables very softly or quietly. The following points should be kept in mind regarding word stress:

  1. One word, one stress. One word cannot have two stresses. If you have heard two stresses, you have heard two words, not one.
  2. Stress is always placed on a syllable.
  3. Stress is marked by a vertical bar (′) above and before the syllable.
  4. Vowel sounds, /I/ and /ə/ are weak sounds. Syllables with these sounds are generally not stressed:










5.5.3 Ascertaining Word Stress Using Parts of Speech

Use of word stress reveals grammatical relationship between words. There are many words in English like ‘absent,’ ‘present’ and ‘rebel’ which may be used as noun/adjectives as well as verbs. In these words stress is placed on the first syllable when the word is used as a noun or an adjective and on the second syllable when the word is used as a verb. For example:


Noun/Adjective Verb

























5.5.4 Word Stress Related to Prefixes

Weak prefixes—a-, de-, be-, dis-, mis-, re-, il-, im-, in-, ir-, pre-, un-—are not stressed in a word. Words with these prefixes are stressed on the root word:

a-: a′ghast, a′rise, a′lone, a′far

de-: de′mand, de′fuse, de′clare, de′generate

be-: be′neath, be′low, be′cause, be′come

dis-: dis′miss, dis′able, dis′own, dis′colour

mis-: mis′shapen, mis′lead, mis′conduct, mis′deed

re-: re′gain, re′call, re′new, re′vise

il-: il′legal, il′lerate, il′logical, il′legitimate

im-: im′movable, impo′lite, im′perfect, imma′ture

in-: in′active, in′accurate, in′capable, in′discipline

ir-: ir′rational, ir′radiate, ir′regular, irre′coverable

pre-: pre′caution, pre′pare, pre-′book, pre′amble

un-: un′sound, un′do, un′comfortable, un′like

5.5.5 Word Stress in Compound Words

1. Compound words ending in ‘-ever,’ ‘-self ’ or ‘-selves’ take primary stress on the second element:












2. Compound words with two nouns take stress on the first element:

3. Compound words with an adjective plus a noun take stress on the second element:

4. Compound adjectives with a numeral plus a noun take stress on the second element:

5.5.6 Word Stress Related to Suffixes

1. Word endings—ette, -ee, -eer, -ier, -aire, -ean, -een, -oo, -ese, -ique, -esque, -eum, -eur, -ental, -illa, -iety, -escent,—carry stress on them:

2. Words ending in suffixes—ial, -ian, -ion, -ious,- eous, -uous, -ic, -ics, -ive, -graphy, -grapher, -logy, -meter, -metry, -sophy, -cricy,- cracy, -gamy,- nomy, -phony, -pathy, -tomy, -logist, -sopher, -sophist, -scopy,- nomer, -nomist, -ical, -ially , -ically, -itive, -iative,-utive, -ative, -atory—are stressed on the syllable preceding the suffix:

3. Disyllabic verbs ending in—ate—are stressed on the last syllable while verbs with three or more syllables take stress on the third syllable from the end:

➙ Adjectives and nouns ending in ‘ate’ with more than two syllables are stressed on the third syllable from the end:

4. Disyllabic verbs ending in ‘-ise’ or ‘-ize’ are stressed on the last syllable; verbs with three or four syllables are stressed on the third syllable from the end, whereas the verbs with five or six syllables are stressed on the fourth syllable from the end:

5. Words ending in suffixes—ity, -fy, -icy and -crat—are stressed on the third syllable from the end:

5.5.7 Shifting of Stress

1. Stress shifts from the first syllable to the second, the third, the fourth syllable as the longer words are derived from the shorter ones:

2. The inflexional suffixes—-d, -ed, -s, -es, -ing—and derivational suffixes—-age, ance, -en, -er, -ess, -ful, -hood, -ice, -ish, -ive, -less, -ly, -ment, -ness, -or, -ship, -ter, -ure, -zen, -y—do not affect the stress:


re′late – re′lated

′fade – ′ faded

′pass – ′passed

sub′mit – sub′mitted

com′pose – com′poses

di′sease – di′seases

′mass – ′masses

′edge – ′edges

′write – ′writing

′ask – ′asking

′take – ′taking

′think – thinking

′Carry – ′carriage

′marry – ′marriage

ap′pear – ap′pearance

at′tend – at′tendance

′fast – ′fasten

′dark – ′darken

′work – ′worker

′suffer –′sufferer

′waiter – ′waitress

′host – ′hostess

′beauty – ′beautiful

′duty – ′dutiful

′father – ′fatherhood

′brother – ′brotherhood

′coward – ′cowardice

′three – ′thrice

′fever – ′feverish

′white – ′whitish

sug′gest – sug′gestive

a′buse – a′busive

′home – ′homeless

′job – ′jobless

′certain – ′certainly

′former – ′formerly

ar′range – ar′rangement

a′chieve – a′chievement

′dark – ′darkness

′good – ′goodness

col′lect – col′lector

′elevate –′elevator

′friend – ′friendship

′citizen – ′citizenship

′laugh – ′laughter

′gang – ′gangster

e′xpose – e′xposure

′city – ′citizen

′greed – ′greedy

wealth – ′wealthy


Mark primary stress in the following words:

limit(v), waiter, stupidity, rational, courteous, donation, fortunate, professional, management, repent, monkey, trouble, dissolve, minimum, parliament, grandmother, reason, seldom, fluently, precious, familiar, article, office, philosophy, romantic, translate, marginal, subtle, agree, prism, journey, surprise, digest, register, object, (n), perfect, behaviour, umbrella, admirable, inflation, postpone, angular, geographic, produce, equality, supplement, logical, official, rainbow, explanation, horizontal, annual, resonant, appropriate, vicinity, self-study, outcry, record (n), sentence, familiar, article, understand, transport, argument, contrast, frustrate, basement, tomato, factory, invention, popular, product, engineering, terrorists, allow, capacity, velocity, digital, artistic, fortunate, academician, career, record, contemplate, matches, anxious, politician, collect, disclose, than, severe, veteran, placard, haggard, lagoon, ransack.

5.6 Weak Forms in English

Sound is the smallest unit of spoken English. The combination of sounds makes syllables; some of them are stressed while some are unstressed. Similarly, in connected speech some words are stressed while some are not. Sometimes choice of the syllables receiving primary accent depends upon the message the speaker wants to convey. In English language prominent syllables occur at regular breaks in spite of the weak syllables occurring between them. This arrangement of weak and strong syllables imparts rhythm in speech.

5.6.1 What are Weak Forms?

English is very different in refinement and style as it has special, reduced ‘weak’ forms for many ‘function’ words, such as pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions, articles and auxiliary verbs. ‘Weak forms’ are the reduced pattern of their ‘strong forms.’ As the words indicate ‘strong forms’ are pronounced strongly with emphasis in such a way that they stand out of the rest while the weak forms are uttered weakly or neutrally in a flow. Most of the words, in English, have at least one stressed syllable; hence, they have no separate strong or weak forms. All words, which do have distinct strong and weak forms, are monosyllables and are usually function words. The main words with weak forms in ‘RP’ are: a, am, an, and, are, as, at, be, been, but, can, could, do, does, for, from, had, has, have, he, her, him, his, me, must, of, shall, she, should, some, than, that, the, them, there, to, us, was, we, were, who, would, you.

5.6.2 Use of Weak Forms

‘Weak’ forms are used in various styles of speech in most of the cases. First, their use adds to the general fluency of a speaker’s English. However, it cannot be ignored that ‘weak’ forms are one of the major reasons for the non-native speakers to have difficulty in understanding conversational English spoken fluently by the native speakers. A good knowledge of the use of ‘weak’ forms, can be extremely helpful in understanding listening comprehensions, conversations and interactions and attaining fluency in spoken English. All these factors finally lead to the overall development of communication skills.

5.6.3 Use of ‘Function’ Words in Strong Forms

These ‘function’ words are used in strong forms only in exceptional circumstances:

  1. When a ‘function’ word is stressed, emphasized or ‘cited:
    • I said a journey to Delhi not from Delhi.
  2. When these words occur at the end of a sentence or a phrase:
    • What are you looking for?
    • I know what I am.
  3. When these words are uttered individually: ‘and,’ ‘for,’ ‘than,’ ‘been’, etc.
  4. When the words like ‘have,’ ‘had’ ‘do,’ etc., are used as full verbs rather auxiliary verbs:
    • He does not do his work on time.
    • I don’t have anything with me.
    • I have had my lunch.
  5. When ‘that’ is used as a determiner not as a conjunction or ‘there’ is used as an adverb not as an empty subject:
    • That book is mine.
    • I went there to meet my old friend.

5.6.4 Strong and Weak Forms of the ‘Function’ Words

From the above-cited examples, it may be clearly observed that there is a pattern in changing the function words into weak forms. All the words which begin with the sound /h/—her, his, he, has, have, had, who—retain /h/ only at the initial position in a sentence, otherwise ‘/h/’ is not pronounced. In the words ending in ‘r’—were, are, her, for, sir, there—/r/ is pronounced when the word following them begins with a vowel sound. Moreover, long sounds /i:/ and /u:/ change into /I/ and /Ʊ—/, respectively and the sounds – /æ/, /e/, /3:/, /^/, /a:/, /eI/, /e∂/ and /Ʊ/ – are replaced by /∂/.


Transcribe the following underlined words in weak forms using IPA symbols:

  1. Tell him the truth.
  2. Do you know the fact?
  3. He is going to the station.
  4. I will come in an hour.
  5. I told you that I couldn’t leave.
  6. Harry is an honest worker.
  7. He wants to have a cake.
  8. I have just finished doing it.
  9. She was the first one to leave.
  10. Remember me to them.
  11. I am going to do it now.
  12. This is very true.
  13. Can you present her with a bouquet?
  14. He said that he was joking.
  15. I would love to have a cup of tea.
  16. He has gone to take a test.

5.7 Intonation

5.7.1 What is Intonation?

Intonation is the ‘music’ of a language, and is perhaps the most important element of a correct accent. When we speak, our vocal cords vibrate and the frequency of vibration decides the pitch of the voice. Sometimes, the pitch rises and sometimes it falls or remains level. The way the pitch of the voice varies forms intonation of a language. In other words, intonation is the word used for some pattern in speech which is related to rise and fall of the voice in speaking, affecting the meaning of what is being said.

5.7.2 Patterns of Intonations

Broadly speaking variation in tone may be of four types:

  1. Falling Tone [] Pitch changes from a higher level to a low level.
  2. Rising Tone [] Pitch rises from a low level to a high level.
  3. Falling–rising Tone [ˇ] Pitch falls and rises.
  4. Rising–falling Tone [^] Pitch rises and falls.

The degree of change in the pitch depends upon the intention of the speaker or on the message to be communicated. Intonation is marked on the syllable on which the pitch rises or falls through the above-mentioned symbols.

5.7.3 Purpose of Intonation

Intonation is used with a purpose to convey the moods or the attitudes of the speaker to the listener. It indicates some grammatical forms such as interrogative sentences, orders or statements. The correct use of intonation keeps the speaker as well as the listener in tune with each other while the wrong use of intonation affects such harmony. The following moods and attitudes are generally conveyed by the use of the four intonations: Falling Tone

The falling tone conveys the mood of casualness, aloofness, lack of interest and indifference. Sentences, which are uttered with this tone, are:

  1. Definite and complete statements:

    I ’don’t ’feel ’like doing it.

    The ’book is ’not interesting.

  2. Wh-questions asked casually:

    ’When did you do it?

    ’Why are you calling him?

  3. Commands:

    ’Shut the door.

    ’Don’t for’get to take it from him.

  4. Invitations:

    Come ’over for a cup of coffee.

    Why ’don’t you ’come and stay with us?

  5. Exclamations:

    What a ’beautiful scene!

    ’How nice of you!

  6. All question tags forcing the listener to agree:

    You’ll do it, won’t you?

    It ’isn’t wrong, is it?

  7. Greetings (Cheerful and hearty):

    Good morning.

    Good day. Rising Tone

The rising tone conveys interest, concern, politeness, courtesy, surprise and encouragement. The following tone groups are generally used in rising tone:

  1. Yes/No questions:

    Has he come?

    Are you ’ready for the show?

  2. Statements proposed to ask questions:

    He ’isn’t doing it?

    You ’don’t ’want to help him?

  3. Polite requests:

    ’Pass me the’ book, please.

    ’Please ’come and help me.

  4. Commands which sound like requests:

    ’Close the door.

    ’Don’t ’call me at late ,hours.

    ’Do ’come in and sit down.

  5. Wh-Questions asked to show concern or friendliness:

    ’How is your son?

    ’What will you do now?

  6. Repetition of Wh-questions (repeating the listener’s question or asking him/her to repeat certain information):

    What did I ,say?

    (It costs two thousand rupees.) How ,much?

  7. To show courtesy:

    After you, ’ma’am.

    ’Do come in ’sir.

  8. To encourage someone:

    That’s O.K.

    ’Don’t lose heart.

  9. Question tags seeking listener’s confirmation:

    You’re coming with me. Aren’t you?

    He’ll ’finish it to day. Won’t he?

  10. Greetings (Done as a duty):

    Good evening.

    Good bye. Falling–rising Tone

The falling–rising tone conveys doubt, reservation on the part of the speaker and polite inquiries. The following tone groups are generally used in falling–rising tone:

  1. Incomplete statements:

    If you ’don’tˇ finish it…

    If he ’doesn’t beˇhave…

  2. Statements intended to be a correction of the information:

    He ’teaches ’French. ˇGerman.

    He ’can’t ’speak ’Englishˇ fluently.

  3. Sentences expressing warning, reproach or concern:


    You should have ’shared it with yourˇ brother.

  4. Statements showing a kind of reservation on the part of the speaker:

    He isˇ good. (but no one likes him.)

    I’ll ’do it toˇmorrow. (not today) Rising–falling Tone

The rising–falling tone conveys enthusiastic agreement, wonder, appreciation or sarcasm. The following tone groups are generally used in rising–falling tone:

  1. Statements showing enthusiastic agreement:

    It was ter^rific.

    Of ^course.

  2. Questions showing indignation, suspicion or mockery:

    ’Will you be ’able to ^do it?

    ’What is he ^doing?

  3. Exclamations showing sarcasm or irony:

    ’How ^ clever of you!

    Oh, ^ really.

    Good ^morning.

  4. Imperatives expressing haughtiness:

    ’Go and ’break your ^ head.

    ’Come and ’see the ^ result.


Mark intonation in the following sentences:

  1. May God bless you!
  2. When are you coming back?
  3. Stop doing that.
  4. May I please borrow your car?
  5. We saw him yesterday.
  6. He sings well. Doesn’t he?
  7. Are you leaving for Mumbai today?
  8. You don’t want to come with me?
  9. How can you say a silly thing like that?
  10. Can you prepare my assignment, please?
  11. I am fond of chocolate cake.
  12. Where does he live?
  13. This is my new office.
  14. I am satisfied.
  15. You can drive the car, can’t you?
  16. Give me the money.
  17. Are you sure he will help me?
  18. What a nice weather!
  19. Many happy returns!
  20. When is the wedding?