No Stress Over Accenting Rules

Accenting is something that can be taught early in Orton Gillingham, but the advanced rules are for advanced decoding and fall much later in the OG scope and sequence.

Accenting is to aid in pronouncing words correctly – that’s the goal.

If a student looks a word up in a dictionary (online these days) and sees an accent mark, they will know how to use that accent mark to pronounce the word.

Early Accenting

These first, simple accenting exercises are to introduce accenting.

Say it both ways.

The best way to teach early accenting is to have the student say the word both ways and decide what makes the most sense.


  • Say, ba’ by and now way ba by’ (ba’by)
  • Say, tu’ lip and now say tu lip’    (tu’lip)

Call the Dog.

For fun, a student can also “call the dog” as a way to see where the accent goes. You say a word like you are calling a dog, like you are yelling it, the longer syllable is usually the accented one. For example, if I were calling my dog I might say, caaammm, el – the cam is the accented syllable. Or, Naap kin. Accent is on nap’ kin.


  • Say, gra vy (like you are calling the dog) (gra’vy)

It usually falls on the root.

If you’ve covered basic suffixes. You can tell your student that the accent will usually fall on the root word, not the prefix or suffix.


  • Boyish (boy’ish)
  • Lately (late’ly)

Advanced Accenting Rules

Later, we get into Accenting Rules – seven rules that can be applied to help a student break down a word and be able to pronounce words that can be long and seem difficult.

Look for a clear sound.

The “overall rule” to accenting is this: listen for a clear vowel sound – a clear short vowel or a clear long vowel sound in one of the syllables. That clear sounding syllable is usually going to be the accented syllable.

For example: napkin

You hear the short a clearer than you hear the i in “kin” (the “kin” could almost be a schwa, but it’s not).

Accenting Rules

Rule I – the root

Rule I: Accent usually on the root, not the prefix or the suffix. If the root has two syllables, accent is usually on the first syllable.

elf’ ish   dis con nect’ mus’ tang


  • Homeless (home’less)
  • Unfairness (unfair’ness)
  • Incorrect (in cor rect’) – (cor is in family prefix com/co, meaning together) (rect is a root meaning straight or to rule)

Rule II – syllable before these endings

Rule II: Accent falls on syllable BEFORE these endings.  -ity , -ic, -ical, -ci, -si, -ti, -xi

  • (i cal is a two-syllable suffix)
  • -ity (ac tiv’ i ty)
  • ic (pa thet’ ic)
  • ical (pract’ i cal)
  • ci (mu si’ cian)
  • -si (con fu’ sion)
  • ti (au di’ tion)
  • xi (com ple’ xion)


  • Numerical           (numer’ical)
  • Angelic                 (angel’ic)
  • Artificial                (artifi’cial)

Rule III – count back three

Rule III: In words with 3 or more syllables ending in silent e, count back 3 vowel sounds and accent (usually). dif’ fer ence                 sep’ ar ate

Words ending in consonant + le, count the le as a vowel sound. ob’ sta cle                        mir’ a cle


  • Delicate                (del’icate)
  • Attitude               (at’titude)
  • Spectacle             (spec’tacle)

Rule IV – before these Latin Connectives

Rule IV: Accent falls on the syllable BEFORE these Latin Connectives: -i-, -u-, -u l

(BUT NOT -i tion)

  • -i-            ex ter’ i or
  • -u-          stren’ u ous
  • u l           turb’ u lent


  • Genuine              (gen’u ine
  • Editorial                (ed i tor’i al)
  • Stimulant             (stim’u lant)

Rule V – verb=root, noun=prefix

Rule V: When a word can be used as a verb or a noun, the verb will accent the ROOT and the noun will accent the PREFIX.

  • con tract’ (v)    ob ject’ (v)
  • con’ tract (n)   ob’ ject (n)


  • Decrease (noun)              (de’crease)
  • Decrease (verb)                (decrease’)
  • Implant (noun)                 (im’plant)
  • Implant (verb)                   (implant’)

Rule VI – -oon/-eer accent

Rule VI: Accent will be on these suffixes: -oon and -eer

  • car toon’              ty phoon
  • pri va teer’          pi o neer’


  • Balloon            (balloon’)
  • Volunteer        (volunteer’)

Rule VII – -ia ending accent

Rule VII: Accent will be on syllable coming BEFORE -ia (i a) ending.

  • Al ba’ ni a
  • sub ur’ bi a
  • pho’ bi a


  • Petunia            (petu’nia)
  • Polynesia         (Polyne’sia)

More About Accenting

Accents can also be on a R-controlled syllable.

To show the difference in how accents affect syllables, use non-sense words and have students pronounce the word with the accent in different locations. For example: stro’ mag dum, stro mag’ dum, stro mag dum’

Schwa syllables are not accented.

With two syllable words, the accent is usually on the first syllable (try it on the first syllable first).

Want more explanation and worksheets on Accenting Rules? Check out Scope and Sequence Book 2 for Beginning Accenting and Scope & Sequence Book 4 for Advanced Accenting. It’s all in the Workbook Store.

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