Primary versus Secondary Stress


Primary stress is the most prominent sounding syllable of a language that assigns stress, with a relatively higher amplitude and pitch. Primary stress is marked with [‘] over the syllable receiving the stress. Words in stress assigning languages will always contain a primary stress.

Secondary stress is relative to primary stress, with a lower amplitude and pitch than the syllable which contains primary stress. Secondary stress is marked with [ˌ]. Stress assigning languages will not always assign a secondary stress.



Examples taken from Suttle (2003, p. 13). Example demonstrates that in each multisyllabic word, the first syllable receives primary stress (marked over the vowel). Secondary stress appears on words which contain a root and a suffix, however no examples are given.