Home / English Lessons / Intonation: Making Lists in English | Part 7 | English Pronunciation Lesson

Intonation: Making Lists in English | Part 7 | English Pronunciation Lesson

This lesson is from the Elemental English pronunciation series on Intonation:

Watch the video lesson:

…or listen to the audio while you read!:


As was explained in the Introduction to Intonation lesson, the musical patterns 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:

  1. Rise  arrow 5
  2. Full fall arrow 6 copy
  3. Partial fall arrow 6 copy 2 

These different musical patterns communicate different messages to your listener.

Making Lists

As was discussed in the lesson on unfinished thoughts, native English speakers use a partial fall with their pitch to tell the listener that they are not finished speaking. Similarly, native speakers use a partial rise in their intonation to tell the listener that they are not done giving a list or series of things in their speech.


Notice what the pitch (the musical note) of my voice does on the following list.

  • “I want to visit Amsterdam, Berlin and Brussels next year.”

Here, there were three cities in the list of places I want to visit: Amsterdam, Berlin and Brussels.

To tell the listener that I am making a list, my voice partially rises on each of the options in that series. In the example, my voice rose on Amsterdam and Berlin, the first two cities in the series.

Then, to make it clear to the listener that I am done with my list, my voice went down on the third city that I said–Brussels–so that the listener knows that Brussels would also be the last city in my list.

Listen and Repeat

  • “I’ll have the chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice cream, please.”
  • “Would you like to go to a restaurant or eat at home?”
  • “We’ll take a red, black or yellow shirt, but not the white.”
  • “My puppy is cute, smart and naughty!”


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