Lesson 21 – Non-final intonation

In this lesson you will learn about non-final intonation.


Instead of a children’s story today, try imitating this cook. She uses lots of interesting variety in her intonation. If you need to, slow down the playback speed a little.

Homework answers

Stress and intonation

Does she ˈlike it?

My ˈfather is in the ˈfront of the ˈline.

Toˈmorrow is my ˈbirthday.

The ˈsun is ˈreally ˈhot at ˈnoon but ˈnot in the ˈevening.

ˈCall ˈFrank as ˈsoon as you come ˈback.

She ˈooked ˈthoughtfully at the ˈpainting ˈhanging on the ˈwall.

Will ˈthese ˈclothes ˈfit in ˈthis ˈsuitcase?

ˈWhy is the ˈsky ˈso ˈdark at ˈnight?

He’s ˈnot a ˈpatient ˈman so be ˈsure to ˈcome on ˈtime.

When I was ˈthirsty, ˈBob is the ˈman who ˈgave me a ˈdrink.

ˈWhat do you ˈlike to ˈdo in your ˈfree time?

ˈEveryone ˈneeds to imˈprove their ˈlanguage skills.

I ˈlove to ˈtalk in ˈEnglish.

The ˈyoung ˈman gave ˈup his ˈseat on the ˈbus for the ˈold ˈwoman.





You’ve already learned about Rising-Falling Intonation:

And also Rising Intonation:

For both of these intonation patterns the first part of the sentence used a Normal tone.

Non-Final Intonation (single thought group)

In this lesson you will see some non-final high tones. These are used to emphasize or stress the important words in a sentence.


What do you know about calculus?

There are lots of people in the train station.

I think that is a good idea.

What do you need a car for?


Comparison in a single thought group

When you are comparing two things, one gets a high tone and the other gets a very high tone. The choice for which gets the very high tone changes the meaning of the sentence.


My students dance better than I do.


My students dance better than I do.


The black kitten is as cute as the brown one.


The black kitten is as cute as the brown one.



Non-Final Intonation (multiple thought groups)





  • He has to leave now.
  • He has to leave.

Weakly unfinished

  • He has to leave now, but he can’t.
  • He has to leave, but he can’t.

Strongly unfinished (question)

  • If he has to leave now, then let him.
  • If he has to leave, then let him.


Practice the pronunciation with

  • want to
  • want


More examples

I don’t want to go; It’s dangerous.

I say he can. He says he can’t.

She wants to buy the car. But she doesn’t have any money.


When you see her, tell her “hi” from me.

If you buy the food, I’ll make dinner.

These shoes are too small for me, but I can’t find any others.


Close your eyes, and I’ll give you a surprise.

If you want to learn English, then you’ve got to work hard.



Where do today’s intonation patterns occur in the final exam dialog?


Find three examples of weakly unfinished or strongly unfinished intonation in middle of a sentence.

  • Give me the three audio clips of those sentences. (Only the sentences, not a long audio recording.)
  • Write the IPA, stress, word blending, and intonation.


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