Lesson 17 – Rhythm


Imitate Grandma as she reads the following story. Pay attention to where she blends the words and to the places where she doesn’t blend the words.


Word blending review

Read these phrases:

  • an apple
  • come in
  • speak English
  • put on
  • have you
  • he’s won
  • go out
  • my only
  • how old
  • see off
  • who yelled
  • she won’t
  • deep down
  • great deal
  • silk purse
  • dig down
  • red shirt
  • rob John
  • half frozen
  • wish she

These are not really word blending in any significant way (though they may be spoken together as a word cluster):

  • I mean (vowel + consonant)
  • for the (r + consonant)
  • your lips (r + consonant)
  • my lips (vowel + consonant)
  • finding love (ŋ + consonant)
  • they’re not (r + consonant)
  • as that (consonant + consonant)
  • the storm (vowel + consonant)
  • the rain (vowel + consonant)
  • shooting hoops (ŋ + consonant)

Homework correction

Here is the dialog from last class with the word blending locations marked. There may be a few extra blending spots marked to account for the semi-vowels /w/ and /j/.

Good‿morning, Susan. Where‿are‿you going?
Hi, Mrs. Jones! I’m going to the store.
I need‿to go, too. Let’s go together.
Sounds good. Are‿you buying food?
Yes. I want‿to get something healthy for my family.
Will you get‿fruit‿or vegetables?
Yes, but‿there’s‿a problem.
My kids don’t‿like‿vegetables, and‿my husband‿doesn’t‿like fruit.
So will you get‿fruit or vegetables?
I think‿I’ll get‿both: apples, bananas, carrots, and‿tomatoes.
You have two kids, don’t‿you?
Yes. Two boys.
I’m sure they‿eat‿a lot, don’t‿they?
That’s for sure. They‿eat‿more than my husband‿does.
How‿often do you have to go shopping?
About‿twice‿a week.
Do you‿usually‿walk to the store?
No,‿I‿usually drive to the store.
Well, here‿we‿are.



As we have been talking about sentence stress you have already seen the importance of rhythm in English.

Rhythm in music

Rhythm is usually a music word. Clap to the beat of four in the following song.


Rhythm in poetry

Still remember Sea Fever? Read it again with a beat of four:

Sea Fever
John Masefield (1874-1967)

I ˈmust go down to the ˈseas again, to the ˈlonely sea and the ˈsky,
And ˈall I ask is a ˈtall ship and a ˈstar to steer her ˈby,
And the ˈwheel’s kick and the ˈwind’s song and the ˈwhite sail’s ˈshaking,
And a ˈgray mist on the ˈsea’s face, and a ˈgray dawn ˈbreaking.

I ˈmust go down to the ˈseas again, for the ˈcall of the running ˈtide
Is a ˈwild call and a ˈclear call that ˈmay not be deˈnied;
And ˈall I ask is a ˈwindy day with the ˈwhite clouds ˈflying,
And the ˈflung spray and the ˈblown spume, and the ˈsea-gulls ˈcrying.

I ˈmust go down to the ˈseas again, to the ˈvagrant gypsy ˈlife,
To the ˈgull’s way and the ˈwhale’s way, where the ˈwind’s like a whetted ˈknife;
And ˈall I ask is a ˈmerry yarn from a ˈlaughing fellow-ˈrover,
And ˈquiet sleep and a ˈsweet dream when the ˈlong trick’s ˈover.


Rhythm in chants and nursery rhymes

Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold,
Pease porridge in the pot, nine days old;
Some like it hot, some like it cold,
Some like it in the pot, nine days old.


Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.


Rhythm in common speech

These sentences have two beats:

  • ˈWhat are you ˈdoing?
  • I’m ˈwashing the ˈcar.
  • ˈWhere are you ˈgoing?
  • I’m ˈgoing to the ˈstore.
  • ˈWhen can I ˈgo?
  • You can ˈgo in a ˈbit.
  • ˈWhat do you ˈlike?
  • I ˈlike to ˈeat.
  • ˈWhat do you ˈwant?
  • I ˈwant to ˈsleep.

These sentences have three beats:

  • ˈPut the ˈbook in the ˈbox.
  • ˈTake your ˈball to the ˈgame.
  • I ˈread in my ˈbed with a ˈlight.
  • The ˈdog and ˈcat are ˈfriends.
  • ˈMary and ˈJohn are ˈeating.
  • ˈDon’t you ˈknow it’s ˈlate?
  • I ˈchecked the ˈroom for ˈmice.

These sentences have four beats:

Source: 英语语音语调 by Zhang and Sun

  • I ˈthink he ˈwants to ˈgo there, ˈtoo.
  • He ˈdid his ˈbest to ˈsave the ˈchild.
  • He ˈhas to ˈgo to ˈwork at ˈeight.
  • I ˈalways ˈlike a ˈcup of ˈtea.
  • He ˈleft the ˈroom withˈout a ˈword.
  • I ˈcan’t forˈget the ˈthings he ˈsaid.
  • They ˈsaid he ˈhad to ˈleave at ˈonce.

These sentences have three beats but more unstressed syllables:

Source: 英语语音语调 by Zhang and Sun

  • I ˈtold him to ˈwait in the ˈcorridor.
  • I ˈthink he ˈwants us to ˈtake him there.
  • Reˈmember to ˈget me aˈnother one.
  • The ˈambulance ˈtook him to the ˈhospital.
  • You ˈmust have it ˈready by ˈSaturday.
  • She ˈpromised to ˈcarry it ˈcarefully.


Do the IPA dictation of this story:


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