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Using THOUGHT GROUPS to improve pronunciation

a year ago

What are thought groups?


In English, it's important to pause between thought groups.

A thought group is a group of words with one idea. Pausing between thought groups makes it easier for people to understand what you're saying. The last word in a thought group usually has the most emphasis.

Examples of thought groups


The slash (/) shows where the thought groups are in these sentences. Listen to me say them while reading the sentences. Notice how I emphasize the last word in each thought group.

I was wondering / if I could make a reservation / for next Saturday.

How do I get to the hotel / from the airport?


In the example below, notice how "laundry", not "service", is emphasized in the second thought group. This is because "laundry service" is a compound noun (noun + noun). In American English, the first noun in a compound noun is emphasized.

Does your hotel / have a laundry service?

More rules about thought groups

Thought groups are usually divided based on grammar. A thought group is usually one of these:
  • a noun phrase
  • a prepositional phrase
  • a verb phrase
  • a short clause
You will almost never find a thought group in the middle of a noun phrase or a prepositional phrase. This would make the sentence difficult to understand!
  • RIGHT: The Central Park Regency Hotel / on West 87th Street / isn't very nice.
  • WRONG: The Central Park Regency / Hotel on West 8th Street / isn't very nice.
  • WRONG: The Central Park Regency Hotel / on West 87th / Street isn't very nice.

And remember, different speakers might pause at different times. There are definitely wrong ways to pause, but there can be more than one right way to do it.