I would like to know the normal pattern of sentence stress for this sentence:

It was awful.

Here is my idea:

  1. The stress is on the first syllable of the adjective awful.
  2. As long as we don't shift stress for special meaning the verb was is unstressed.

Is my idea correct? Is it the same for similar sentences?

  • 1
    You are correct. Aug 28, 2015 at 9:39
  • 4
    Again, these kind of "amirite" questions are not really helpful for the community. Instead of posting all as a question and asking "am I right?", please consider writing a self-answer and explaining the connotation that the stressing conveys, optimally with resources and the "why"s.
    – M.A.R.
    Aug 28, 2015 at 9:56
  • 1
    The english tag, and similar, should not be used. Everything here is about English. Aug 28, 2015 at 18:20

1 Answer 1


Your explanation is a bit confusing to me, but it's like this:

It was awful.

Emphasizing that we are talking about it opposed to something else.

It was awful.

Emphasizing that it was awful, but implying that it is no longer awful. Or, this says it was awful despite some reservations.

It was awful. (Stress on "aw")

Emphasizing that it was awful opposed to some other description. This would be the most common form.

  • 3
    I agree with all of your forms but I'd put the emphasis solely on the "aw" of awful. It was awful.
    – Catija
    Aug 28, 2015 at 18:35
  • @Catija agreed. Updated answer
    – Evorlor
    Aug 28, 2015 at 22:05
  • 1
    Good answer, people seem to like it. All fine, except that I wouldn't characterize "It was awful." as "implying that it is no longer awful". I hear "was" stressed most often as an argumentative reply to "It wasn't that bad...", basically analogous to a childish reply "was, too!" Aug 28, 2015 at 23:47
  • @VictorBazarov agreed. Updated answer
    – Evorlor
    Aug 28, 2015 at 23:50

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