Speaking

What is Intonation in English

What is Intonation in English
What is Intonation in English

Intonation describes how the voice rises and falls in speech. The three main patterns of intonation in English are discussed below.

What is Intonation in English

Intonation Patterns
There are three basic pitches in English- these are normal, high, and low. There is also a very high pitch, which is used to express strong emotions such as surprise, anger, or fear. (The very high pitch will not be covered in this text).

  1. The normal pitch is where the voice usually is.
  2. High is where the voice rises to indicate information focus.
  3. Low is where the voice falls, usually at the end of sentences.

In most conversations the voice is normal at the beginning of the sentences, rises at the information focus word (or syllable) then falls back to normal, and drops to low at the end of the sentence. Look at the intonation patterns below.
There are different intonation patterns used for different types of sentences. The intonation pattern for statement, commands, and WH questions is basically the same- the voice starts at a normal pitch, rises at the intonation focus word, falls back to normal after the intonation focus word, and falls to low at the end of the sentence. With yes/no questions the pitch starts at normal and rises at the end of the sentence.

Statement:                                                   capture

I like riding horses. 

capture

My English isn’t that good yet.

Commands: 

capture

Get off the horse now

capture

Give me the key.

Wh Questions:

capture

When do you go riding?

capture

Who do you like in the fifth?

Yes/No Questions: 

capture

Do you ever fall off?

capture

Have you eaten yet?

Requests:

capture

Could I have some money?

capture

Can I go with you sometime?

Intonation questions

  • You are going to Pakistan.
  • You are going to Pakistan?
  • They came from school.
  • They came from school?

The new chair in our living room is broken.

  • The new chair in our living room is broken?        
  • The new chair in our living room is broken?
  • The new chair in our living room is broken?        
  • The new chair in our living room is broken?

   The inspector and a car driver

INSPECTOR: What did you do when they asked you to stop?

CAR DRIVER: I didn’t know what to do. I was shocked to see some boulders at a distance. I slowed down the car.

INSPECTOR: And then ……….?

CAR DRIVER: Suddenly one of them pulled out a knife and threatened to kill me if I didn’t stop driving. Then I stopped the car.

INSPECTOR: Then what happened?

CAR DRIVER: One of them caught hold of the lady and the other snatched the chain. They escaped on a bike.

INSPECTOR: Can you identify them if you see them again?

CAR DRIVER: Of course, I can. One was wearing a black shirt and black pants and the other was wearing a striped shirt and a dhoti. He had a thick moustache too.

INSPECTOR: OK, you can go now and you may have to come here whenever you are summoned.

CAR DRIVER: Yes, Sir.

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