Intonation refers to the pitch patterns that a speaker uses when communicating in English. The intonation of a sentence is the pattern of the pitch that occurs. There are four patterns of intonation:
A) The falling intonation.
It is marked with a fall of the voice from a high pitch to relatively very low pitch in the last stressed words. This pattern conveys the following types of sentences:
- Short sentence: I was glad. I like coffee.
- Wh-question intended to convey information: What is your name?
- Imperatives: shut up. Sit!
- Exclamation: what is a nice girl?! What is a nice dress?!
- Question tag: he speaks English, doesn’t he?
B) The rising intonation.
It is indicated by the rise in the voice from a very low pitch to relatively very high pitch on the last stressed syllable as the syllable following it. This pattern is typical on the following patterns:
- Statement intended to encourage the listener. I should not be late, come on.
- Yes/No-question: did you play football? Do you like football?
- Incomplete sentence: (When the speaker intends to continue) When I saw my father, …
- Question tag: (When the speaker expects a negative reply) It is clod today, isn’t it? forcing the answer yes.
- Questions showing sympathy: what are you going to do?
C) Falling-rising pattern.
It is a fall of the voice from a high note to a very long one, and then a rise from the low note to a very high one again. It is used for the following sentences:
- Correcting other people: You surely want the briefcase for you. Oh. No. It’s for my son.
- Showing differences of opinion: This is cheap watch. Oh. No. It’s very expensive.
- Implying something else: The worker left angrily. (The speaker implies that the worker may not turn the next day).
D) Rising-falling pattern.
The voice first rises from a low note and then falls from a very high note. This pattern is used to express certainty as opposed to doubt, as in saying:
His name is Ali. (If I am certain about the person’s name).
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