How To Tackle Word Stress In English (WAEC, JAMB)

Are you finding it hard to understand and answer questions on word stress or syllable stress in English?

In this lesson…

You will learn the simple rules for answering questions on word stress in your JAMB and WAEC English test of oral exam.


ALSO SEE: How To Answer Questions On Emphatic Stress

Take note.

A link for you to practice exam past questions on word stress is included at the bottom of this lesson.

1. First syllable from the back

Words (3 syllables or more) that ends with these suffixes below are stressed on their first syllable from the back.

SuffixExample(s)Word stress
—eeabsentee
nominee
ab-sen-TEE
no-mi-NEE
—eervolunteervo-lun-TEER
—adelemonadele-mo-NADE
—eseTogoleseTo-go-LESE
—ooncartooncar-TOON

2. Second syllable from the back

Words (3 syllables or more) that ends with these suffixes below are stressed on their second syllable from the back.

SuffixExamplesWord stress
—ionrevelation
television
re-ve-LA-tion
te-le-VI-sion
—icplatonicpla-TO-nic
—blerelatable
irresistible
re-la-TA-ble
i-re-sis-TI-ble
—iancivilianci-VI-lian
—ialfinancialfi-NAN-cial
—iaNigeriaNi-GE-ria
—entingredientin-GRE-dient
—ousreligious
righteous
re-LI-gious
RIGH-teous
—ualunusualun-U-sual
—ishselfishSEL-fish
—sisdiagnosisdi-ag-NO-sis
—iveintensivein-TEN-sive
—tantmilitantmi-LI-tant

3. Third syllable from the back

Words (3 syllables or more) that ends with these suffixes below are stressed on their third syllable from the back.

SuffixExamplesWord stress
—tyclarity
maternity
CLA-ri-ty
ma-TER-ni-ty
—cydemocracyde-MO-cra-cy
—gygeologyge-O-lo-gy
—fyqualify
personify
QUA-li-fy
per-SO-ni-fy
—phyphotographypho-TO-gra-phy
—sycontroversycon-TRO-ver-sy
—ise
—ize
advertise
apologize
AD-ver-tise
a-PO-lo-gize
—ateevaporatee-VA-po-rate
—almaternalMA-ter-nal

4. Fourth syllable from the back

Words (usually more than 3 syllables) that end with the suffix below are stressed on their fourth syllable from the back.

SuffixExamplesWord stress
—smtribalism
revivalism
TRI-ba-li-sm
re-VI-va-li-sm

5. Last syllable from the back

Words (3 syllables or more) that ends with these suffixes below are stressed on their very last syllable from the back.

SuffixExamplesWord stress
—lyorderly
disorderly
OR-der-ly
DIS-or-der-ly
—ermanagerMA-na-ger

6. Words with two syllables

VERBS of two-syllable are stressed on their first syllable from the back, while NOUNS of two-syllable are stressed on their second syllable from the back.

TypeExamplesWord stress
Verbrelaxre-LAX
NounpurplePUR-ple

NOTE some words are exceptions, meaning that even when they fall into the categories above, their stress patterns may differ.

Classwork

Click on the link below to practice real past questions on Word Stress now.

Practice Test

Do you have something to ask on this word stress? Comment below and a staff or fellow Topper will reply you.

Let others know

4 thoughts on “How To Tackle Word Stress In English (WAEC, JAMB)”

  1. Hi sir/ma.
    What if we have a word like CULTISM (which does not have a fourth syllable), where is the stress going to be?
    Thank you.

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