Expressing Unfinished Thought with Your Voice

Listen to the audio while you read.

In English there are three intonation pattens:

  1. Rise
  2. Fall
  3. Partial fall

These different musical patterns communicate different messages to your listener.

We use a partial fall intonation at the end of a thought group to give the listener’s brain time to digest the speech, and also to tell the listener that I’m not finished speaking.

Expressing Unfinished Thought with Your Voice

Now, I want you to compare the music of these two sentences:

  • My phone number is 555-1212.
  • My phone number is 212-555…

Did you hear the difference in the musical notes at the end of each sentence? In the first sentence, my voice went all the way down at the end of the sentence to tell my listener that I’m done making a statement, and now you can respond. While in the second sentence I used a partial fall intonation to tell my listener that there’s more to say; that I’m not finished speaking.

Another example:

  • I like your dress.
  • I like your dress… (but I’m not too crazy about the shoes.)
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