Showing Emphasis

In speech, we can make words sound stronger by pronouncing them louder and with a higher intonation. We may also make the vowel longer, and pause before a stressed word. Stress is reflected in printing by using italics or bold type. Changes in stress can affect the meaning of a sentence.


Alice phoned me yesterday. (Not somebody else.)
Alice phoned me yesterday. (She didn’t come – she phoned.)
Alice phoned me yesterday. (She didn’t phone you – she phoned me.)
Alice phoned me yesterday. (Not today.)

We often stress auxiliary verbs. In emphatic sentences without auxiliary verbs we can add do to carry stress.

Do sit down!
She does like you.

Special words to show stress

Certain words, such as so, such, really and just, can be used to show emphasis.

Thank you so much.
It was such a lovely party.
She is such a nice girl.
I really like her.
I just love the way she talks.

Question words can be emphasized by adding ever or on earth.

Why ever did she marry him?
What on earth is she doing here?
Myself, yourself etc can be used to emphasise nouns.

I had a word with the manager himself.
Indeed can be used to emphasise very with an adjective or adverb.

I was very surprised indeed.
Very can emphaise superlatives, next, last, first and same.

We were born in the very same street on the very same day.
Repetition can also show emphasis.

She is much, much older than her husband.