The Music of Language

In this lesson we’re looking at pronouncing words and sentences correctly in English.

To sound like a native you have to be careful to pronounce your words perfectly. We’re going to look at the music of language, and a few rules to learn to sound like a natural. We’re also going to look at a few phrasal verbs.

Have fun with the lesson, and don’t forget to try the quizzes.

– James.

Lesson Contents

The music of language

  • Intonation – This is the up and down of the voice:

Excuse me…


    • Stress – The accented syllables in individual words:


      • Rhythm – the stressed syllables over a group of words:

What do you mean you can’t come?

Match the first line of conversation with the second.

Phrasal verbs

Phrasal verbs are made of a verb and a particle (normally a preposition). Phrasal verbs sometimes have a literal meaning, and sometimes an idiomatic meaning:

      • Literal:

I looked up and saw the helicopter.

      • Idiomatic:

I looked it up on Wikipedia.

Here are a few phrasal verbs and their literal and idiomatic meanings:

pick up = take / learn a skill

put down = put on a surface / euthanise an animal

hold on = grip / wait

put up = raise / let someone stay with you

sort out = categorise things / solve a problem

take off = remove clothing / start to be popular

stand up = get up from a chair / defend someone

Read the phrasal verbs and match the meanings.

All Quizzes