3. Intonation patterns I

Imagen de Tricia Wang en Flickr bajo licencia CC

Intonation is about how we say things, rather than what we say. Without intonation, it's impossible to understand the expressions and thoughts that go with words.

There are two basic intonation patterns: Rising and Falling. With rising intonation you have to raise slightly the pitch at the end of the sentence, whereas with falling intonation you go down a bit.


We use falling intonation with:

  • Statements
  • Wh- questions
  • Commands or invitations
  • Exclamations
  • Alternative questions

We use rising intonation with:

  • Yes / No questions
  • Offers
  • Enumerations


Listen to examples of sentences with falling and rising intonation.

Pregunta Verdadero-Falso

Watch the video below which introduces intonation and explains how falling intonation works. Say if the following statements are True or False:

1. Thanks to intonation, our voice doesn't sound flat.

Verdadero Falso

2. Intonation can help you to know when's your turn to participate in conversations.

Verdadero Falso

3. Falling intonation communicates certainty and completion.

Verdadero Falso

4. The three lines of melody the speaker talks about are examples of falling intonation.

Verdadero Falso

5. In a line of melody, the voice changes in the last content word of the statement.

Verdadero Falso


Rellenar huecos

Look at the list of sentences in the table below. Do they have falling or rising intonation? Read the information provided in the introduction again and write 1 if the sentences have rising intonation or write 2 if, on the contrary, they have falling intonation.  Use the spaces provided to write the number.

  • That band was a worldwide hit
1. Rising Intonation
  • Do you sing while taking a bath?
2. Falling Intonation
  • What musician would you most like to meet?
  • Turn the volume down!
  • What an orchestra concert!
  • I listen to classical music, jazz and rap.
  • Do you prefer music in English or in your own language?