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Created on February 6, 2024
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Thought Groups and Pausing
- Aspect of spoken English rhythm that can have a beneficial impact on your intelligibility.
- Thought groups allow you to organize your speech into groups of words that make up a single idea (Grant, 2010).
- Help the listener(s) better understand the information in your speech by organizing your ideas into comprehensible “packages” that are easy to process.
What are they?
The second sentence is divided into two thought groups, with a very short pause in between.
The only thing I’m interested in is completing this project on time.The only thing I’m interested in is completing this project on time.
OK?! I still don’t get what that means?
The only thing I’m interested in is completing this project on time.
- Every thought group in English also has a single focus word, which is usually the last content word in the thought group.
- The focus word usually has greater stress relative to the other words in the sentence.
- The focus word in the first thought group above is interested; in the second thought group, the focus word is time.
The sentence above contains 3 thought groups and 3 focus words.
Sometimes thought groups may contain only one word, as in this example:First, check to make sure that your seat belt is secure.
Thought groups can be especially useful in presentations, speeches, debates, and other semi-prepared public speaking contexts, but creating thought groups will improve your intelligibility in both your conversational and formal speech.
Why do we need to know this?
- Thought groups are not always separated by punctuation!
- Example: The only thing I’m interested in is completing this project on time.
- Also, not every sentence will always be written down!
- Thought groups are a quality of speech, which are carried into writing with punctuation.