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English Speech Pronunciation: How to Say Words Ending in Y, LY, Ful

Published August 24, 2020 by Dr. Antonia Lawrence Johnson and Clear Talk Mastery, Inc.

English Speech Pronunciation- How to Say Words Ending in Y, Ly, and FUL- Inherited from German

Have you ever wondered why when you add a suffix, that little syllable  at the end of word, sometimes the word syllable accent stress stays on the same syllable as the root word?  BUT you notice that  sometimes the word syllable accent stress changes to a different syllable.    How’s a person supposed to know where to put the word syllable accent stress when adding a suffix at the end of the word?

Fact is—to be good at English speech pronunciation, you have got to emphasize with your voice  the accented syllable.

Has this ever happened to you?   You say a word, pronouncing every consonant and vowel accurately.  Then the listener says, “What?”.  You say it again with perfect consonants and vowels?  Again, “What?!”  By this time the listener is frustrated. You are frustrated.  Then the listener  says, I  know. I  know.  You mean this word.  And the listener pronounces the word. BUT the listener emphasizes a syllable by going up in pitch on that syllable, the “stressed” or “emphasized” or “accented” syllable.

Both of you are now happy!. And the listener says, “You put the accent on the wrong syllable.  That’s why I could not understand the word.”

To repeat, because it is soooo important– to be good at English speech pronunciation, you have got to emphasize with your voice  the accented syllable.

Let us start with easy.  With some multiple syllable words which have the suffix “y”, “ly” and “ful”,  the emphasized syllable is the “root word” or “root”  or “stem”. 

That rule came about in German because of wanting to direct the listener to the most important part of the word.

Yay, speakers of English can thank the German language for this!

Recall that English is heavily built from  German, French and Latin languages.

Now here is your new learning.  If you see a word ending in “y, “ “ly,”  or “ful”,  pronounce the word with the emphasis or  word syllable accent or “accent” on the root.

You remember this for your Clear Talk Mastery instruction—when you emphasize a syllable in a multiple syllable word,  go up in “pitch” on that syllable and the vowel sound in that syllable.

You probably know this also:   There are languages which do not emphasize  a syllable in multiple syllable words.

You probably know this also:  Many other languages use the technique of always emphasizing a syllable in a multiple syllable word.  However, their speaking technique is to go a little  louder only on that emphasized syllable.

But the technique in English is to emphasize a syllable by going up in pitch for that syllable.

What is pitch?  That is measured in hertz, hz.  Not decibels dB which is the measurement for volume or loudness.  Keys on a piano  from left-hand to right-hand go from low pitch to high pitch.  Do re mi fa so la ti do— Maybe you sang those 8 notes in a musical octave when  you were learning in school to sing.

Do you remember learning a song that went like this “Do/Doe, a deer a female deer. Ra/ ray a drop of golden sun. Me  a name I call myself. Fa/Fa(r) a long long way to run. So/Sew a needle pulling thread. La/Lah a note that follows so/sew. Ti/tea a drink with jam and bread. That will bring us back to  So/Sew, So/Sew , So..

This is a very famous song in North American, melody and lyrics,  the words, composed or written by  Rogers and Hammerstein for a  musical show on  the famous Broadway in New York City and the famous movie The Sound of Music.

If you play a musical instrument, if you sing, you know about pitch.

The untrained human being voice when it goes up in pitch, will also go a little louder in volume.  But importantly, singers learn to change their pitch in singing and not go up in loudness unless that is what they want.   

Children and adults  who are native-born North American speakers of English learn to do pretty much the same.  They learn to go high enough “up” in pitch for accented syllables, so that listeners can hear or notice the emphasized syllable.

Let’s circle back to multiple syllable words that end in “y”, “ly,” and “ful”.

You probably already know the general rule.  If you have a two syllable word, put the accent on the root word, not the suffix.  That’s easy!

But for 3-syllable or 4-syllable etc. words which end in “y”, “ly” and “ful”, which syllable to you emphasize? That is the question.

Here’s the answer.  Do yourself a favor, and memorize this:  Put the word syllable stress on the “root”  or “root syllable/word”.

Practice these using speaking aloud and not just reading with your eyes—

BAKE, BAK-er, BAK-er-y

FAC-tor, FAC-tor-y

FLAT-ter, FLAT-ter-y


SLIP- per, SLIP- per-y

BUB-ble, BUB-bly





PRAC-ti-cal, PRAC-ti-cal-ly

PUR-pose, PUR-pose-ly

FRIGHT, FRIGHT-ful  ___ FRIGHT-ful- ly

PUR-pose, PUR-pose-ful       ___ PUR-pose-ful-ly

WASTE, WASTE-ful __  WASTE-ful-ly

WON-der, WON-der-ful  __ WON-der-ful-ly

Frblg_20160437 copyright 2020 Clear Talk Mastery, Inc

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