Home / English Lessons / Intonation: Requesting Clarification or Repetition | Part 4 | English Pronunciation Lesson

Intonation: Requesting Clarification or Repetition | Part 4 | 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!:

Introduction

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.

Requesting Clarification or Repetition

As an English language learner, you may sometimes have a hard time understanding a speaker. If you don’t understand everything that was said, you can use the rising intonation to let the speaker know that you require clarification.

Example

  • X: “I think I’ll go to the door.”  arrow 6 copy
  • Y: “You’ll go to the store?” arrow 5
  • X: “No. The door.”  arrow 6 copy   (Notice that the intonation goes down when finishing a statement.)

Did you hear how my voice went up on the word “store”? I used the rising intonation to tell my listener that I’m not sure that I understood that specific word, and that I require repetition or clarification.

Listen and Repeat

  • X: “I can’t go without food.” arrow 6 copy
  • Y: “You can?” arrow 5
  • X: “No. I can’t.” arrow 6 copy

Notice that even though “can” is a function word, which I usually de-stress, here I stressed it to request clarification. (See also the lesson on can vs. can’t)

 

  • X: “You should turn left on First Street.” arrow 6 copy
  • Y: “On Fourth Street?” arrow 5
  • X: “No. On First Street.” arrow 6 copy

 

Sentences you can use to request clarification or repetition with the rising intonation if you don’t understand a speaker include the following.

Listen and Repeat

  • “I’m sorry?” arrow 5
  • “Excuse me?” arrow 5
  • “What was that?” arrow 5
  • “Could you repeat that please?” arrow 5 (notice that [d] + [y] –> [dʒ])

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2 comments

  1. Nihat Satıroğlu

    Thanks for everything, it was big problem pronunciation in English

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