In the post “Stress within two-syllable word in English language” I said that it is better to learn the stress of a word when the word is learned. That’s because there are two many exceptions and the rules related to words’ stress are to difficult, not only to be memorized but also to be applied. However, there are some advantages of learning stress rules, and pretending that there are no rules or regularity in English word stress is totally inexact.
The last syllable is unstressed if it contains a short vowel and ends with just one consonant (or no consonant at all). In this case the stress is placed on the penultimate syllable.
Deliver /dɪˈlɪv ər/
The last syllable is stressed if it contains a long vowel (or a diphthong) or ends with two or more consonants.
Entertain /ˌɛn tərˈteɪn/ (it contains a long vowel)
Resurrect /ˌrɛz əˈrɛkt/ (it ends with two consonants)
In the nouns’ case the rule is completely different. The stress tends to go on the syllable that contains a long vowel or diphthong. Also, the syllables that ends with more than one consonant are favored in getting the stress.
The final syllable is unstressed if it contains a short vowel or /əʊ/.
Potato /pəˈteɪ təʊ/ (it contains əʊ)
The middle syllable is stressed if it contains a long vowel or a diphthong. It is also stressed if it ends with two or more consonants.
Disaster /dɪˈzɑ:stər/ (it contains a long vowel)
The first syllable of a noun is stressed if the following three conditions are simultaneously fulfilled:
Cinema /ˈsɪn ə mə/
In the case of simple nouns, if the final syllable contains a short vowel (or diphthong) or ends with more than one consonant then the first syllable is stressed. The last syllable of such nouns is usually very prominent so it is said that they have secondary stress on the last syllable. It is shown in the example below with a comma before the last syllable.
Alkali /ˈæl kəˌlaɪ/
Adjectives, in order to produce stress pattern, follow the same rule as simple nouns.
Insolent /ˈɪn sə lənt/