- Part 1: Introduction to Intonation
- Part 2: Completing a statement (“I got a dog.”)
- Part 3: Asking a wh-question (what, where, who, why, when, how) (“What is your dog’s name?”)
- Part 4: Need clarification/repetition (“WHO got a dog?”)
- Part 5: Expressing surprise (“Your dog speaks English?!”)
- Part 6: Unfinished thought (“I want a dog, but…”)
- Part 7: Making a list or in between thoughts (“My dog is smart, pretty and sweet.”)
Watch the video lesson:
…or listen to the audio while you read!:
The musical pattern of ups and downs in your speech–in both the middle and end of your sentences–is called intonation.
In English, there are three intonation patterns:
These different musical patterns communicate different messages to your listener.
Compare the two sentences below:
In English, the burden is on the speaker to be very clear. The listener should not need to work hard to understand the communication, which includes the emotion behind the words. Therefore, native English speakers use the rising intonation pattern to tell the listener that he or she is surprised by what they just heard–so surprised, in fact, that they sometimes repeat the surprising statement as a question with the rising intonation.
Did you hear how my rising intonation expressed surprise?
Listen and Repeat
- “Is that yours?” (subtly meaning, “Wow, I can’t believe you have that!”)
- X: “John is the class valedictorian.”
- Y: “John graduated at the top of his class?!” (meaning, “Wow, I didn’t know he was even that smart.”)
- X: “I prefer vanilla.”
- Y: “Wait, you don’t like chocolate ice cream?!” (meaning, “Chocolate ice cream is amazing. I thought everyone loves it!”
- “You’re moving to China?!” (meaning: “OMG, that’s so far away!”) (notice how I de-stressed the “to”)
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