Intonation for 'yes or no' questions

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Olivia Ehlers

Senior Member
Spanish
Hi guys

1.Is there any butter(rising tone)?
2.Is this your sister(rising tone)?
3.Are there any eggs(rising tone)?

Do I have to use rising tone in the last word at the end of each sentence?

Can I use falling tone? Will that sound weird?
 
  • Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Yes, a rising tone is the mark of a question. In fact you can turn an assertion into a question by using a rising tone for the last word. A rising done, turns the assertion "This is your sister" into a question "This is your sister?"

    Don't use a falling tone for sentences like those above. The sentence will sound like a oddly worded assertion.

    This related discussion may interest you: Rising intonation in American English
     

    Olivia Ehlers

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Yes, a rising tone is the mark of a question. In fact you can turn an assertion into a question by using a rising tone for the last word. A rising done, turns the assertion "This is your sister" into a question "This is your sister?"

    Don't use a falling tone for sentences like those above. The sentence will sound like a oddly worded assertion.

    This related discussion may interest you: Rising intonation in American English
    Thank you Cagey~ Could you also tell me which syllable I should start with the rising tone?
    1. Is there any butter? (start from "b" or "t"?)
    2. Is this your sister? (start from "s" or "t"?)
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    In order to rise, you must first go to a lower level so that you can make the rise more obvious. The second syllable should already be high, so the down-up happens during the first syllable. Of course the question doesn't arise when the final word has only one syllable (like "eggs"). Here the down-up happens during that single syllable. More generally, I'd say the down-up happens during the "main" syllable of the word in question, the one that would normally be stressed.

    In "Are there any bananas?", for example, the "ba-" is in the same neutral tone as "Are there any", and then the down-up happens during the middle syllable "-na-", and the final "-nas" is high.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    The change in tone begins on the last stressed syllable:

    Is that /Sam?
    Is that /Susan?
    Is that A/manda?
    Is that /Christopher?

    So the rise may be spread over one or more syllables.
     

    Olivia Ehlers

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    In order to rise, you must first go to a lower level so that you can make the rise more obvious. The second syllable should already be high, so the down-up happens during the first syllable. Of course the question doesn't arise when the final word has only one syllable (like "eggs"). Here the down-up happens during that single syllable. More generally, I'd say the down-up happens during the "main" syllable of the word in question, the one that would normally be stressed.

    In "Are there any bananas?", for example, the "ba-" is in the same neutral tone as "Are there any", and then the down-up happens during the middle syllable "-na-", and the final "-nas" is high.
    Got it! Thank you very much Edinburgher~
     
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