Succeed in America

Overcome Cultural and Linguistic Barriers. Improve Effectiveness 

Word stress in numbers: “teens” and “tens”

Every day millions of people use numbers either in face-to-face or over the phone interactions. Numbers may and do cause much confusion. This is because some numbers in English are pronounced similarly but have different stress patterns. Reversing the stress is likely to lead to disconnect between the communicating parties. These numbers are in the teens, such as 13, 14, 15…19, and in tens, such as 30….-90. We are talking about just seven pairs of numbers, but the impact of misunderstanding is huge – we use them all the time. Confusing these two pairs of numbers, can cause missing an important appointment, losing a sale, going to the wrong address – the possibilities are endless ! This is especially true for foreigners when accents and mispronunciation can wildly DISTORT the meaning. SITUATION Consider these examples This task will take me 16 hours to complete (compared to) This task will take me 60 hours to complete My wife is 14/40 years old This item costs 19/90 dollars The address is 15/50 Main Street (and so on and so forth). 

Here are two tips for you, to avoid misunderstandings when using these numbers Make sure you stress first syllable in 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, and second syllable in 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90. Clarify and say “one three” or “three-zero” to help to visualize the number. Watch this video on the topic: