Pauses and Thought Groups
Many speakers of English as a Second Language have difficulty not being understood because they speak English too quickly and don't break up their sentences into phrases. Verbal communication is similar to music, whereby phrasing is important to convey the message.
By inserting pauses into our speech, we can divide longer sentences into two or more parts, or thought groups. A thought group is a portion of a sentence set apart by a pause or pauses.
When we pause in a sentence, it is usually for one of three reasons:
There are no set rules for creating thought groups. Different people will emphasize different ideas and speakers vary as to their ability to talk without stopping for a breath. This does not mean that a pause may be made anywhere in a sentence. In general, no pause is made within closely related word groups. If pauses are made too often, the effect is choppy, hard to follow and unpleasant to listen to.
1. To make the meaning clear: (When the wind blows / the cradle will rock.)
2. For emphasis: (Frankly my dear, / I don’t give a damn.)
3. To allow the speaker to take a breath when verbalizing a long sentence.
- When you gamble / you may as well flush the money / down the toilet.
- In that household / she is the boss.
- With his temper / I’m sure he hit the roof.
- I didn’t study for the test / so now all I can do / is pray that I pass.
- When company comes to my house / I would appreciate them / taking off their shoes.
- As soon as he gets some money / he spends it.
- I’m thinking about joining the club / but for now / I would prefer not to join.