Intonation is the melody or tune of the spoken language.
If you make mistakes with the sounds in English,
the listener will
often still understand you. If you make mistakes with the intonation
your mood or feelings about what you have said may be misunderstood.
Sometimes the same words, said with different intonation can have different emphasis or meaning.
For example: When answering a question such as
"Your name is John, isn't it?" and "Your name isn't John, is it?"
The words in your answer may be "No, it isn't", if your name is not John. BuT
In one case you are confirming the opinion of the person asking the question and in the other case you are
expressing disagreement and surprise.
listen and check
A: Your name is John, isn't it?
B: No, it isn't!
A: Your name isn't John, is it?
B: No, it isn't!
Intonation is rising and falling tones over a group of words.
Listen to the following sentences spoken first
with intonation as normal and then in a monotonous
way without changing voice tones and staying on the same level,
not going up and not going down.
Repeat the sentences the correct way with intonation.
change the stress and change the context or meaning
I didn't steal the books from the library.
Depending on which word I stress, I will mean five completely different things.
I didn't steal the books from the library. It was Tom. It must have been somebody else.
(It wasn't me that stole them, it was somebody else.)
I didn't steal the books from the library. I was out shopping at the time.
(I deny it! I never did such a thing.) - Provide an alibi
I didn't steal the books from the library. I borrowed them.
(I borrowed the books from the library.)
I didn't steal the books from the library. I only stole some notepaper, and I thought it wouldn't matter.
(I might have stolen something, but not the books)
I didn't steal the books from the library. I stole them from shop across the street.
(OK I stole them. It's a fair cop! But I stole them from the school and not the library.)
Some more sentences.
For each sentences, see how many different meanings or different ways to emphasis words there might be.
You can also add pauses to change the meaning and emphasis. In written form you may insert a comma.
I didn't say we should kill him
He is at home in the kitchen.
Make up different sentence stress versions of this sentence with possible follow up
sentences to show the meaning.