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PARTS OF SPEECH

Different schools of grammar present different classifications for the parts of speech.

Traditional grammarians, for example, base designations on a word's meaning or signification.

Example: A noun is a word that names a person, place, thing, or idea.

Structural grammarians see parts of speech as often identifiable through their position in
sentences

Example: Her _________ was on the table.

(noun)

Using valuable ideas from both groups, we may divide parts of speech into two major groups:

2 Classes:
1) content words (open class)
2) function words (closed class)

Content Words

It isn't surprising that content words are usually nouns, verbs, adjectives, and sometimes
adverbs. Those are the words that help us form a picture in our head; they give us the contents
of our story and tell our listener where to focus his or her attention. We want our listener to be
able to quickly grasp the main content of our story, so we make the content words easier to
hear by bringing attention to them with added stress.

Category Description Examples

people, places, things, and Patty, Seattle, cars,


nouns
ideas happiness

main verbs verbs without auxilliaries ran, swim, thinks

adjectives words that describe nouns red, soft, careful


Category Description Examples

adverbs (except adverbs of


words that describe nouns calmly, quickly, carefully
frequency)

who, what, where, when,


question words words that denote a question
why

negatives words that negate not, never

Function Words

Function words are the words we use to make our sentences grammatically correct. Pronouns,
determiners, and prepositions, and auxiliary verbs are examples of function words. If our
function words are missing or used incorrectly, we are probably considered poor speakers of
English, but our listener would probably still get the main idea of what we are saying. Since
function words don't give us the main information, we don't usually want or need to do
anything to give them added attention and the words remain unstressed. In addition,
sometimes we do things to deliberately push function words into the background... almost the
opposite of stressing. This is called reducing.

Category Description Examples

auxiliary verbs verbs that support the main verbs am, are, has, could, should

prepositions words that tell relation to other words at, on, to, near

conjunctions words that tie clauses together and, so, but, however

determiners words that give detail to nouns a, an, the, some, any

pronouns words that replace nouns I, it, we, they, he, she

Not very many aspects of English are concrete, and the idea of stressing content words, but not
function words, is a generalization and not a rule. Not every content word is said louder or
longer, and not every function word is reduced. A speaker chooses exactly which words to
stress based on the message he or she is trying to send.
Note the differences between content and function parts of speech:

English Pronunciation Practice Exercises 2


Content or Function?

First, you need to be able to immediately distinguish between content and function words.
Write down 'C' for content and 'F' for function. When you have finished click on the arrow to
see if you have answered correctly.

Example: magazine (C) as (F) many (F)

1. went 6. hard
2. with 7. next to
3. just 8. CD ROM
4. quickly 9. open
5. the 10. had
11.

12.Which Words?

13. Next, take a look at the sentences and mark the words that should be stressed. Once you
have decided, click on the arrow to see if you have chosen the correct words.

14. Example: Jack (yes) went (yes) to the shop (yes) to grab (yes) some coke (yes).

1. He had finished breakfast before I arrived.


2. Phillip ordered a huge steak for dinner.
3. They will have to stay up late if they are going to finish their homework.
4. It must have been something in the air that caused Jack to shout.
5. Could you please be more quiet?

15. Notice how some of the shorter sentences actually have more stressed words than the
longer ones (2 compared to 3). These shorter sentences can often take longer to speak
than longer sentences with many function words!!!

16. The Music of English

17. English is a very rhythmic language because of this tendency to accent only certain
words. For this reason, you should practice using your ear as much as possible. Often
repeating spoken English without looking at the written sentence can also help you
learn this 'music' of the language. Click on the audio symbol below to listen to five
sentences. Each sentence will be repeated three times with gaps in-between so that you
can try repeating the sentences yourself. If you need some help, here are the
sentences which you can listen to and read while working on this exercise.

18.

19. Helping Yourself at Home

20. Finally, practice speaking through the sentences below. First speak the sentence trying
to carefully pronounce EVERY word. Notice how unnatural this sounds (as in the
listening exercise above showing the contrast between this unnatural pronunciation and
the natural way of speaking). Next, focus on speaking the sentences only working on
stressing the content words. Tape yourself doing this and you will be surprised at how
quickly your pronunciation improves!

He drove to work after he had finished working in the garden.


You'll find the apples next to the oranges on the shelf over there.
Maggie must have been visiting her aunt in Springtown last weekend.
Could you pass me the mustard, please?
They have been considering buying a new car as soon as they have saved enough
money.
21. English Pronunciation Practice Exercises 2
22. Content or Function?

23. First, you need to be able to immediately distinguish between content and function
words. Write down 'C' for content and 'F' for function. When you have finished click on
the arrow to see if you have answered correctly.

24. Example: magazine (C) as (F) many (F)

1. for
2. information
3. in order to
4. difficult
5. much
6. exacting
7. in front of
8. Jack
9. he
10. however
25. Which Words?

1. Unfortunately, Jack wasn't able to finish on time.


2. As soon as he has collected the results he will post them to his website.
3. Peter bought shoes today.
4. There should have been some replies by now.
5. Knowledge creates opportunities where none have existed before.

26. Notice how some of the shorter sentences actually have more stressed words than the
longer ones (2 compared to 3). These shorter sentences can often take longer to speak
than longer sentences with many function words!!!

27. The Music of English

28. English is a very rhythmic language because of this tendency to accent only certain
words. For this reason, you should practice using your ear as much as possible. Often
repeating spoken English without looking at the written sentence can also help you
learn this 'music' of the language. Click on the audio symbol below to listen to five
sentences. Each sentence will be repeated three times with gaps in-between so that you
can try repeating the sentences yourself. If you need some help, here are the
sentences which you can listen to and read while working on this exercise.
29.

30. Helping Yourself at Home

31. Finally, practice speaking through the sentences below. First speak the sentence trying
to carefully pronounce EVERY word. Notice how unnatural this sounds (as in the
listening exercise above showing the contrast between this unnatural pronunciation and
the natural way of speaking). Next, focus on speaking the sentences only working on
stressing the content words. Tape yourself doing this and you will be surprised at how
quickly your pronunciation improves!

By the time he receives this letter, I will have caught the train to Paris.
Following closely behind the herd was a group of filthy, disgusting vultures.
I'll make sure to give him a ring the next time I'm in town.
Not only are the exams required, but they are also absolutely imperative for your further
education.
Hey, have you seen the new film with Bruce Willis? You know, the one where he's
supposed to be a sensitive doctor.
32.

33.

34. http://esl.about.com/library/speaking/blpronounce_stress_words1.htm

35.

36.

37. Speed Reading


38. Learning to Read More Efficiently
39.

40. Think about how much reading you do every day.

41. Perhaps you read the newspaper to catch up with what's going on in the world.
You browse countless emails from colleagues. And you then read the books,
reports, proposals, periodicals, and letters that make up an average day.

42. When you look at it, reading could be the work-related skill that you use most
often!
43. It's also a skill that most of us take for granted by the time we reach the age of
12. After all, it seems that if we can read and comprehend textbooks, then,
surely, we must be good readers?

44. Maybe not. And, given the time that reading consumes in our daily lives, it may
be a skill that we can, and should, improve.

45. But what does becoming a better reader involve?

46. It means getting faster and more efficient at reading, while still understanding
what you're reading. In this article, we'll look at how you can do this, and how
you can unlearn poor reading habits.

47.

48. How We Read

49. Although you spend a good part of your day reading, have you ever thought
about how you read?

50. How do your eyes make sense of the shapes of the letters, and then put those
letters together to form a sentence that you can understand?

51. When you actually think about it, reading is quite a complex skill. Previously,
scientists believed that when you read, both of your eyes focused on a
particular letter in a word. Recent research shows this isn't the case.

52. Scientists now believe that each of your eyes lock onto a different letter at the
same time, usually two characters apart. Your brain then fuses these images
together to form a word. This happens almost instantaneously, as we zip
through pages and pages of text!

53.

54. Advantages of Speed Reading

55. Many people read at an average rate of 250 words per minute. This means that
an average page in a book or document would take you 1-2 minutes to read.
56. However, imagine if you could double your rate to 500 words per minute. You
could zip through all of this content in half the time. You could then spend the
time saved on other tasks, or take a few extra minutes to relax and de-stress.

57. Another important advantage of speed reading is that you can better
comprehend the overall structure of an argument. This leads to a "bigger
picture" understanding, which can greatly benefit your work and career.

58.

59. Note:
Speed reading is a useful and valuable skill. However, there might be
times when using this technique isn't appropriate. For instance, it's
often best to read important or challenging documents slowly, so that
you can fully understand each detail.

60.

Breaking Poor Reading Habits

61. If you're like most people, then you probably have one or more reading habits
that slow you down. Becoming a better reader means overcoming these bad
habits, so that you can clear the way for new, effective ways of reading.

62. Below, we cover some of the most common bad reading habits, and discuss
what you can do to overcome them.

63.

Sub-Vocalization

64. Sub-vocalization is the habit of pronouncing each word in your head as you
read it. Most people do this to some extent or another.

65. When you sub-vocalize, you "hear" the word being spoken in your mind. This
takes much more time than is necessary, because you can understand a word
more quickly than you can say it.

66. To turn off the voice in your head, you have to first acknowledge that it's there
(how did you read the first part of this article?), and then you have to practice
"not speaking." When you sit down to read, tell yourself that you will not sub-
vocalize. You need to practice this until this bad habit is erased. Reading blocks
of words also helps, as it's harder to vocalize a block of words. (See below for
more on this.)

67. Eliminating sub-vocalization alone can increase your reading speed by an


astounding amount. Otherwise, you're limited to reading at the same pace as
talking, which is about 250-350 words per minute. The only way to break
through this barrier is to stop saying the words in your head as you read.

68.

Reading Word-by-Word

69. Not only is it slow to read word-by-word, but when you concentrate on separate
words, you often miss the overall concept of what's being said. People who
read each word as a distinct unit can understand less than those who read
faster by "chunking" words together in blocks. (Think about how your eyes are
moving as you read this article. Are you actually reading each word, or are you
reading blocks of two, or three, or five words?)

70. Practice expanding the number of words that you read at a time. You may also
find that you can increase the number of words you read in a single fixation by
holding the text a little further from your eyes. The more words you can read in
each block, the faster you'll read!

71.

Inefficient Eye Motion

72. Slow readers tend to focus on each word, and work their way across each line.
The eye can actually span about 1.5 inches at a time, which, for an average
page, encompasses four or five words. Related to this is the fact that most
readers don't use their peripheral vision to see words at the ends of each line.

73. To overcome this, "soften" your gaze when you read by relaxing your face and
expanding your gaze, you'll begin to see blocks of words instead of seeing each
word as distinct unit. As you get good at this, your eyes will skip faster and
faster across the page.

74. When you get close to the end of the line, let your peripheral vision take over to
see the last set of words. This way you can quickly scan across and down to the
next line.
75.

Regression

76. Regression is the unnecessary re-reading of material.

77. Sometimes people get into the habit of skipping back to words they have just
read, while, other times, they may jump back a few sentences, just to make
sure that they read something right. When you regress like this, you lose the
flow and structure of the text, and your overall understanding of the subject can
decrease.

78. Be very conscious of regression, and don't allow yourself to re-read material
unless you absolutely have to.

79. To reduce the number of times your eyes skip back, run a pointer along the line
as you read. This could be a finger, or a pen or pencil. Your eyes will follow the
tip of your pointer, helping you avoid skipping back. The speed at which you read
using this method will largely depend on the speed at which you move the pointer.

80.

Poor Concentration

81. If you've tried to read while the TV is on, you'll know how hard it is to
concentrate on one word, let alone on many sentences strung together.
Reading has to be done in an environment where external distractions are kept
to a minimum.

82. To improve your concentration as you read, stop multitasking while


reading, and remove any distractions. This is particularly important, because
when you use the techniques of chunking blocks of words together and ceasing
to sub-vocalize, you may find that you read several pages before you realize
you haven't understood something properly.

83. Pay attention to "internal distractions" as well. If you're rehashing a heated


discussion, or if you're wondering what to make for dinner, this will also limit
your ability to process information.

84. Sub-vocalization actually forces your brain to attend to what you're reading, and
that's why people often say that they can read and watch TV at the same time.
To become an efficient reader, you need to avoid this.
85.

Approaching Reading Linearly

86. We're taught to read across and down, taking in every word, sentence,
paragraph and page in sequence.

87. When you do this, though, you pay the same attention to supplementary
material as you do to core information. (Often, much more information is
presented than you actually need to know.)

88. Overcome this by scanning the page for headings, and by looking for bullet
points and things in bold. There is no rule saying that you have to read a
document in the order that the author intended, so scan it quickly, and decide
what is necessary and what isn't. Skim over the fluff, and only pay attention to
the key material.

89. As you read, look for the little extras that authors add to make their writing
interesting and engaging. If you get the point, there's no need to read the
example or anecdote. Similarly, decide what you need to re-read as well. It's far
better to read one critical paragraph twice than it is to read another eight
paragraphs elaborating on that same concept.

90.

Keys to Speed Reading Success

91. Knowing the "how" of speed reading is only the first step. You have to practice it
to get good at it. Here are some tips that will help you break poor reading habits
and master the speed

92.

93. http://www.mindtools.com/speedrd.html

94.