Pronunciation / Stressing the last syllable

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In French, we speak in groups of words. We only take a breath at the end of an idea. The group of words is called rhythmic group or phonetic word. It includes three syllables on average.

Rhythm of French is very steady. Only one syllable is notable: the last one since it is longer and placed before a pause. We call it strong syllable. 

Example:
Audio file
intéresSANt (ti ti ti TA*)

You can clap your hands while saying the syllable and clap louder on the strong syllable.
The accent mark (é, è, à, â, etc.) is not related to the length of the syllable.

Example
Audio file
le cinéMA (ti ti TA*)

*To represent this difference in length, the strong syllable is pronounced “TA”, while other syllables are pronounced “ti”, usually perceived as a shorter sound.
 

Practical exercises

Pronunciation: Stressing the last syllable

A1
4 exercises
Listen • Pronunciation (Intonation, rythme et accentuation)