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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Rising Intonation - English Pronunciation with JenniferESL

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We have a basket of small musical instruments,

and I almost forgot that we have this.

A slide whistle. Listen.


Do you hear how smoothly the sound changes?

From a high pitch to a low pitch.

A low pitch to a high pitch?

It's very different from the sounds we get from a keyboard.

Listen and compare.

[plays scale]

On a keyboard it's more like stepping with our fingers, right?

But with a slide whistle, the changes in pitch

are more similar to gliding because it's very smooth.

In our first lesson, we talked about stepping and gliding.

We focused on falling intonation.

And that's an important intonation pattern to learn

because without it you won't sound certain...

you may not sound confident..

and people won't know when you're finished speaking...

So it's worth learning.

However, there are times when we need to make our voice rise in pitch.

And that's what we're going to focus on now.

Rising intonation.


Rising intonation is used with many questions, especially yes-no questions.

Those are questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no.

Are you coming?

Can you help?

As with falling intonation, rising intonation makes use of stepping and gliding.

Step up when you have more than one syllable to work with.

COMing? Are you COMing?

Each unstressed syllable after a stressed one

is a chance to step up even higher in pitch.

Are you coming?

Are you coming now?

Are you coming anytime soon?

Notice how those adverbs of time are not stressed.

They're content words, but the verb is the more important word.

So I place emphasis on "coming."

Are you COMing now?

Are you COMing anytime soon?

We glide up when we have only one syllable to work with.

That's one stressed syllable and no following unstressed syllables.

Can you help?

Both with stepping and gliding there's a bit of a drop before we rise.

Listen again.

Rising intonation can express doubt, uncertainty, and incompletion.

It's not a bad thing necessarily.

In fact, rising intonation can be a helpful signal that we need an answer.

Are you coming?

I need confirmation. Yes or no?

Sometimes we use rising intonation to turn a basic statement into a question

because we need confirmation.

So grammatically the sentence looks like a statement.

But our voice signals our listener that we're asking a question.

You said he's coming?

He really did that?

She came?

A stronger rise can express more doubt or more uncertainty.


Similarly, we can repeat a wh- question with rising intonation.

We might do this because we didn't hear the answer the first time.

Or maybe we didn't believe the answer.

Let me give you two examples.

When is he coming?

I ask my wh- question the first time with falling intonation.

When is he coming?

I repeat it.

When is he coming?

I'm going up.

I'm also changing my focus word.

Instead of the final content word, I really want the basic information: when?

So I change my focus word. It's not at the beginning.

So I have more syllables to work with, and I can keep climbing to a higher pitch.

When is he coming?

OR: When did you say he's coming?

if I use just the single word, one syllable, I glide: When?

Here's our second example.

Who said that?

Falling intonation the first time I ask the question.

But if I repeat it:

Who said that?

Rising intonation.

I also changed the focus word the second time.

I'm emphasizing WHO and all other words take me higher in pitch.

Who said that?

If I only use the question word, I have one syllable, so I glide: Who?

Try repeating after me.

First, we'll step up from a stressed syllable.

Listen for the drop before we rise.

Now we'll glide up on a single stressed syllable

Listen for that little drop before we rise.

Remember to practice on your own.

Compare your speech to mine.

Here are the 10 model sentences again.

I'll say each one once.

That's all for now. Thanks for watching and happy studies!

The Description of Rising Intonation - English Pronunciation with JenniferESL