English Communication Confidence Blog

Understand Focus Words To Communicate In English

Mar 28, 2022

Once you understand syllable stress in a word, you need to understand which word in a sentence gets stressed. Are you ready to learn more? Jump on in!


Hello, everybody. How are you? Good to see you. It's Jill and I am here today to talk to you about focus words and how they change depending on what we're trying to say. But before I jump in and I teach this to you, I wanna ask you to stick around to the end of today's video, because I have a very special offer for you. Alright. So stick around, have a listen. Here we go. Focus words, get my glasses. Alright. So we know that focus words. We tend to put our attention on nouns and verbs and adjectives and adverbs. And WH question words like who, what, where, when, why? Okay. If you don't know that you know that now generally speaking, the focus word or most important word is a noun, a verb, an adjective, an adverb, or a WH question word.


Great. However, sometimes we change the focus word depending on what we're trying to say. Alright. So for example, if you look at this sentence here, you know, I and think we have a pronoun and a verb, so we know that we're gonna emphasize which word, think so we would say, I think, I think da, da, I think. Meaning, right? I think, I think, do you think, I think, alright. Now here we have a helping verb. We first we have think. Then we have the helping verb can, and we see later on, on that, we're gonna add the main verb after can, but for right now can, is gonna be, we're gonna move that focus word to can. So the melody is gonna move as well. I think I can. I think I can. So think is important. It's more important than I. But we gotta the melody, the length, the volume over to the word can. I think I can. I think I can. We go up, we go down on that focus word. Now look, let's add another word. The word help. Where do you think the focus word is gonna be here?


Help. Okay, so listen to this. I think I can help. I think I can help. So all of a sudden we've taken this word and we've we've we've, it's like we've reduced the a, we're not saying, I think I can help. We're saying, I think I cn, cn, cn help. And we move to the word help. Okay. So this becomes the focus word. This was the focus word. This was the focus word. So let me do a little recap. I think, no, sorry. It's not a question. I think. I think I can. I think I can help. Alright. Now, look, I think I can help you, what? I think I can help you cook. So we're going to move the word there now. I think I can help you cook. Can help you. Can help you, can help you cook. Right? And we start to do these reductions just as I said here.


So I'll just put a line through this. We're gonna do the same thing here. We're starting to reduce and we're trying to right, we're, we're creating these new reductions. So that we can put our attention on the focus word. I think I can help you cook. Got it. Alright. Good. And then this very last one here while this big loud truck is going by, uh, where's the focus word now? This is interesting, right? I think I can help you cook dinner. So what I would say is that we have cook is important. I think I can help you cook dinner. But we want dinner. It's not lunch. It's not breakfast, right? I think I can help you cook dinner. I think I can help you cook dinner. And again, we continue to make these reductions so that we can make it easier to move towards those important words. So the word cook is important. The word dinner is important and notice there's a very, very small pause in between. I think I can help you cook dinner, cook dinner, cook dinner. So the rhythm is Ba BAda. Instead of BaBAda. I'm not saying, I think I can help you cook dinner.


I'm saying, I think I can help you cook dinner. The rhythm is different. When you understand where the focus words go and you start to work with these reductions and the less important words, you're starting to sing your speech. If you're doing it correctly, right. You're using melody on the right words. You're lengthening the other important information words. You're starting to use the rhythm and the melody of the language. That's why this matters so much. And we always have to think about what is the context? What am I trying to say? What am I trying to focus my listener's ears on? What do I want them to hear? Okay. So I hope that was super helpful.


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