Lesson 3 - Weak syllables

Syllables which are not stressed can be described as weak. They are pronounced very quickly and softly. Learning to pronounce unstressed syllables weakly can be difficult for Cantonese speakers.

Identifying weak syllables

Find out the strong and weak syllables of the words below, e.g., toGEther, and then practise pronouncing the words aloud. .

1 protect
2 subtract
3 purchase
4 estate
5 analysis
6 horizon
7 equipment
8 insurance
9 exhibit
10 representative


International Phonetic Alphabet

We can use the International Phonetic Alphabet to indicate how words are pronounced. Click here to see and listen to the English phonetic symbols.

Recognizing transciption symbols

Read the words transcribed below and write them out in normal spelling in the space provided. The first one has been done for you.

1 /praɪs/ price
2 /prəˈtekt/
3 /həˈraɪzən/
4 /ˈpɜːtʃəs/
5 /əˈnæləsɪs/
6 /təˈgeðə/



The schwa

The symbol for the most common vowel sound in spoken English is /ə/. It is always unstressed, and said very quickly, softly and at a low pitch. We call it the schwa.


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