Dear Richard,

I would like to know what the exact different between:

Rhythm and Intonation
Original Post
Rhythm deals with beats (stress), Izzy, and is related to music in that respect. In a language like English, if the rhythm is off, the listener may have difficulty understanding the communication.

For example, if I say WHAT did you DO for DINner last night? the words and the part of one word in capital letters represent the elements in the sentence that get the strong beats, and by placing the stress or strong beats in this way, the rhythm of the complete sentence is set up.

Intonation deals with the raising or lowering of the voice, again something related to music as in which notes are hit. If you raise the voice, you hit a higher note, and vice versa. In the sentence I'm using as an example, the one element where the voice is raised most obviously is DIN. That's the moment when the speaker's voice will go up when saying the question.

So rhythm deals with stress or the beats, and intonation deals with raising or lowering the voice as with musical notes.

Here's how this question sounds, albeit a tad exaggerated so that you can hear the beats and when the voice is raised:


Audio (1)
Thanks a lot, Richard.

Can we say that rhythm or stress falls on words in the example you provided while intonation falls, so to speak, on the whole example?

In the examples below, which determines if the sentence is a question or predicative, intonation or rhythm?

You are hungry?

You are hungry.
No, Izzy, intonation doesn't fall, as you put it, on the whole sentence. In fact, the two examples you've supplied demonstrate this very well.

Intonation is indeed in charge of these two examples, Izzy. The question receives what we call a rising intonation. It's half a step up on hung and another half-step up on ri. By the way, this is a question we'd use only to show surprise.

The statement, which is your second example, has a falling intonation, with a half-step down on ri. This sentence describes the speaker's observation.

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