When you pronounce the phrase 'pick it up' as a native speaker, is there any word in it that need to be pronounce higher in pitch with more stress?

This is how I pronounce it in American English. I'm not native. https://clyp.it/njjdhmuy Phonetically the three words are connected together with a flap T.

Pick up is a phrasal verb, and as far as I know phrasal verbs get the most stress on the preposition, but I'm not sure about "Pick it up" when it has an "it" between "pick" and "up".

Any suggestion would be appreciated.

  • I would say you got it right as to intonation. As I hear you, though, there seems not to be an emphasis or change of tone on "up", but it is LOUDER (you can also see this on the waveform graphic). The only other thing is that your pronunciation of "up" sounds more like "op" to me. – Brian Hitchcock Apr 1 '15 at 12:21
  • Thank you for your feedback. Your time is greatly appreciated. I looked up the word "up" in the dictionary and the IPA is: "ʌp". The pronunciation is with a stressed schwa sound. Did you still hear it as "op" ? Some people say the two schwa sounds "ʌ" and "Ə" sound the same, but for me "ʌ" sounds more like "a" in the American "hot" (not British) clyp.it/wy002muj – Zoltan King Apr 1 '15 at 12:26
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    Well, I don't know those symbols, but I can tell you that "up" sounds the same as the beginning of "apart" or "appear" – Brian Hitchcock Apr 1 '15 at 12:37
  • It might be a regional difference. I tried to pronounce it like the American English dictionary. dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/american-english/up What you say sounds more like this: clyp.it/xpwhl3lr – Zoltan King Apr 1 '15 at 13:21
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    Yes, that's how I say it. – Brian Hitchcock Apr 2 '15 at 6:42

When you pronounce the phrase 'pick it up' as a native speaker, is there any word in it that need to be pronounce higher in pitch with more stress?

There are a few ways one could mean the phrase:

"Pick it up!" as a command that could be given to remove something from the floor or increase one's speed as in a march where someone may tell the person in last place to "Pick it up!" Parents could tell their children to "Pick it up!" about stuff left on their bedroom floor.

"Pick it up?" as a question where the "up" would have a rising intonation as it is meant more as a question than anything else. Someone may see money on the ground and give the line, "Should I pick it up?" that is a question rather than an order or statement.

"Pick it up," as a statement that when commenting on a sports play there can be the call of, "Pick it up," even though the play is taped and there isn't anyone to take what could otherwise be seen as an order. There are also card games like Euchre where this phrase may be used in play when someone wants to order up the turned up card to make it trump.


Most often, "up" has a rising intonation, but there are times when "pick" would receive the emphasis and "up" would have a falling intonation. For example, let's say someone is squeamish about picking something up, perhaps the liver of an animal euthanized in a biology lab course. Someone might say to his lab partner:

Come on, píck it up.

  • To my ear, the intonation [PICK it up] would only be possible if the mode of lifting the thing were emphasized. For instance, if the person were using his foot to propel it upwards and grab it, one could say: PICK it up, don't KICK it up! However in your example, I think the lab partner would sooner say: Come OOON^ ! Pick it UUUP^ ! - granted, at a higher pitch level than normal, yet with the stress and lengthening and falling intonation on UUUUP. – CocoPop Jul 12 '15 at 13:06

Judging by the assortment of answers, it looks like you've confused a lot of people with your question. It might be that you brought up pitch, when, if I'm interpreting correctly, your question is fundamentally about stress.

Yes, you're right: "Up" is always the stressed word in this phrase. Pitch will depend on context. Your voice sample sounds just fine.

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