Words under stress 25 Mayıs 2013

Looking at the word in today’s photo it means a legal contract that is signed by two parties for the delivery of a service.  The stress of the word is placed on the first syllable: ‘CONtracts’.  It is a noun.  But if we put the stress on the second syllable of the same word, ‘conTRACTS’, it becomes a verb, meaning either to grow smaller, or to catch an illness. 

This is why; English can sometimes be a strange language.  Two words can look the same but the way that you pronounce them can completely change the meaning.  For example let’s look at the word ‘CONTENT’. ‘Content’ pronounced with the stress on the second syllable, as in ‘I feel ConTENT today’, is the adjective with the meaning of ‘I feel happy’.  If we move the stress to the first syllable, in this sentence, ‘I feel that this business deal lacks CONtent’ then the word becomes the noun, meaning that the deal does not have enough details or substance.  The same is true for the word ‘PRESENT’.  If we place the stress on the first syllable ‘PREsent’, it either means a ‘gift’, or ‘now’.  It is a noun.  But if we put the stress on the second syllable ‘preSENT’, it actually becomes a verb, which means to give someone something or to give a talk to a group of people.   


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net