pausing with different grammar and words

Chipster

Member
English- British
Hello,

I have recently been volunteering with someone to help them pass their IELTS speaking exam. Their voice needs a great deal of improvement. I am trying to encourage them to pause in the correct places and did some research about this and could only find information about making speeches.

What I need to know (and have confirmed) is whether the following are correct:

In speech, we pause slightly :

1-before coordination conjunctions when they connect simple sentences.

2-before and after conjunctive adverbs such as however, therefore etc.

3- before future tense structures such as going to and will ----

4- before or after adverbs of frequency.

My observation is that pausing and stopping don't always happen the same way in speaking as they do in writing.

Any further advice would be gratefully received especially any websites that easily explain how pausing fits with grammar structures. Thanks so much.
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    This is a big topic. The book to use is English Intonation by J.C. Wells, which analyses the intonation of normal speech. One basic point is that we often don't really pause, but sentences are divided into 'intonation phrases' (IP), which are marked by a characteristic intonation. Obviously a yes-no question rises towards the end, but equally important in our intonation is that a non-final phrase ends with a falling-rising intonation on the last stressed syllable. This is how we 'feel' the structure, and it does correspond to grammatical chunks.

    For example, in your first sentence, you would probably say something like this:

    _I have ^recently been volun\tee/ring with someone | _to ^help them pass their IELTS \speaking exam.

    There are two IPs. You probably feel a 'pause' between them, "|", but might not actually stop speaking there. Each begins on _low pitch for one or two unstressed grammatical words, then moves to ^high pitch.

    The non-final IP (the first one) begins \falling on the main stress of volunTEEring, then /rises back up. But the final IP just has a fall, starting on the last main stressed syllable, SPEAking.

    If you consider how these intonational differences work in your own speech, you will probably see the grammatical boundaries that correspond to them. (I can't give a short, simple list.) In that first sentence, the purpose phrase beginning with 'to' is a separate IP. Sometimes there are different divisions into IP depending on whether we're speaking faster or slower.

    There may also be differences depending on dialect/accent, but not I hope too much: the basic principles apply to (unemotional) English generally.
     

    Chipster

    Member
    English- British
    This is a big topic. The book to use is English Intonation by J.C. Wells, which analyses the intonation of normal speech. One basic point is that we often don't really pause, but sentences are divided into 'intonation phrases' (IP), which are marked by a characteristic intonation. Obviously a yes-no question rises towards the end, but equally important in our intonation is that a non-final phrase ends with a falling-rising intonation on the last stressed syllable. This is how we 'feel' the structure, and it does correspond to grammatical chunks.

    For example, in your first sentence, you would probably say something like this:

    _I have ^recently been volun\tee/ring with someone | _to ^help them pass their IELTS \speaking exam.

    There are two IPs. You probably feel a 'pause' between them, "|", but might not actually stop speaking there. Each begins on _low pitch for one or two unstressed grammatical words, then moves to ^high pitch.

    The non-final IP (the first one) begins \falling on the main stress of volunTEEring, then /rises back up. But the final IP just has a fall, starting on the last main stressed syllable, SPEAking.

    If you consider how these intonational differences work in your own speech, you will probably see the grammatical boundaries that correspond to them. (I can't give a short, simple list.) In that first sentence, the purpose phrase beginning with 'to' is a separate IP. Sometimes there are different divisions into IP depending on whether we're speaking faster or slower.

    There may also be differences depending on dialect/accent, but not I hope too much: the basic principles apply to (unemotional) English generally.
    Thank you for your comprehensive reply.
     
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