Let’s say that your friend is celebrating something, and you want to congratulate them on that event. And you are coming up to them and you say, “Hey, congratu…” and you get stuck. Why? Because it’s a long word, and the spelling does not correspond with pronunciation exactly, and you get frustrated. And then you get in your head and then, you know, why feel that weight?

So, let’s practice the word ‘congratulations’ so you can go ahead and congratulate everyone around you. So let’s begin with a beginning. “k’n” – it’s a ‘k’ sound, a schwa, and an ‘n’, a weak syllable. k’n.

Then you have a secondary stress syllable – ‘gra’. It’s a G sound, an R – round your lips, and open your mouth to the A as in cat: ‘gra-‘, as in the word ‘gratitude’, or ‘graduate’. ‘gra-‘. Then it’s a weak syllable again: ‘k’n-gra-dj’. Although it’s spelled with a T, it’s actually pronounced as a ‘dj’ – a D and a J together – ‘dj’. And a schwa, of course, a weak syllable. ‘k’n-gra-dj-‘.

Then the primary stress of the word: L, and then EI as in ‘day’ – LEI, as in “late” – LEI. And then another weak syllable – ‘sh’n-z’: a ‘sh’, a schwa, and an N – ‘sh’n-z’, a Z at the end. ‘sh’n-z’. ‘k’n-gra-dj’-LEI-sh’n-z’. Congratulations.

Now, another interesting thing about this word is the rhythm, okay? Not every syllable receives the same beat. So it’s not con-gra-tu-la-tions, con-gra-tu-la-tions, but it’s ‘k’n-gra-dj’-LEI-sh’n-z’: short, longer, short, LONGER, short. ta-da-da-DA-da. ‘k’n-gra-dj’-LEI-sh’n-z’. While the LEI is the primary stress, it’s also higher in pitch. Congratulations. “Congratulations on your anniversary”. Congratulations for saying ‘congratulations’.