As far as I know determiners are not stressed as long as we don't need special emphasis. Am I right? If we don't need special emphasis we only stress the content words "get" and "sleep". Am I right?

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    +1 - BUT can you wait at least a couple of days before selecting an answer please old bean! Aug 5, 2015 at 14:45

3 Answers 3


Indeed, without special emphasis determiners are normally not stressed. The word some is an indefinite determiner here.

In terms of stress, sleep would normally get the primary stress and get the secondary stress. This means that sleep will be stressed slightly more than get.


Yes. With no special stress, the word "sleep" would carry the most emphasis. "Some" would be entirely unstressed. A more visual representation might be:



/ˈgɛʔ sm ˈsli:p/


Most determiners don't usually take stress in normal, unmarked speech. For example, the articles a and the are very rarely stressed. The same is true of the indefinite determiners some and any. Many words in determinative function do take stress though. One example is numbers. So in the phrase:

  • Two sugars, please

both two and the first syllable of sugars will usually be stressed.


The verb get is often described as an 'empty' verb. This is because it often has very little meaning of its own. In get passives for example, GET seems to have an auxiliary like role, almost. In other sentences such as:

  • Ben got an email

GET will also not be stressed. It doesn't give us much specific information here. In the example above we would expect Ben and the first syllable of email to be stressed, but not the word stressed.

However, in the Original Poster's example, GET is the main verb in an imperative construction. We normally expect the main verb in an imperative to be stressed (although not necessarily, especially with the verb BE). In the phrase:

  • Get some sleep

we would normally expect the verb get and the lexical noun sleep to take stress. The word some would not be stressed in a normal, unmarked version of the sentence. Because there is a noun following the word some here we would expect to see the weak form /sm/ or perhaps /səm/ here. We would definitely not expect the strong form /sʌm/.


In terms of the overall sentence, the word sleep will get the nuclear tone because it is the last content word. It may therefore be perceived as the most prominent syllable in the utterance. However, it is also perfectly possible for the word get to be the loudest or highest pitch syllable here in the onset position. The imperative construction here makes this even more likely. It depends on the context of the utterance.

Pronunciation note:

When followed by a noun the word some will usually be unstressed and weak. When we see the word some without a following noun, as in the sentence:

  • Do you want some?

... the word some will still be unstressed, but will have a full vowel. In other words the strong form, /sʌm/, is required.

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