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Anatomy: (Low Pre-head +) (High Head +) Low Fall Nuclear Tone [ ]


1. Statements with this tone group sound definite and complete in the sense that the speaker wishes
them to be regarded as separate items of interest: He was tall,| dark| and handsome.

2. If we happen to have a list, usually the final item in such list which is taken to be complete is normally
said with the Low Drop, the other elements in the list having a tone group with a rising nuclear tone:
You can have tea, | or coffee, | or milk. The use of the Low Drop for the last word group in a list
implies that the list is really complete and that there are no other possibilities.

3. If the Low Drop has no head, it typically conveys detachment, a lack of involvement in the situation:
…………You’re a fool.
 What’s your name? Johnson.
 How old are you? Twenty.

4. In examples containing a head, the effect of the Low Drop is of very considerable power and
strength. This power may lend itself to utterances of a categorical, weighty, judicial, considered kind:
He is the stupidest °man I know. - Are you sure? - Absolutely certain.

5. This tone group is commonly used to give weight to expressions of both approval and disapproval, of
both enthusiasm and impatience:

 What was it like? It was simply terrible.

 How do I look? Absolutely ravishing.

Wh- Questions:

1. With the Low Drop, these questions sound searching, serious, intense and urgent (give me the
answer now): Now where did I °put my pipe? – Why did you do such a ostupid othing? - What can
I °get you to drink?

2. If the Low Drop occurs on the wh- word the attitude is of detachment and they often sound flat or
unsympathetic, even hostile:

 Got any cigarettes? Why?

 Someone told me to tell you Who told you to tell me?

Yes / No Questions:

1. When the Low Drop is used, the question is put forward as a serious suggestion, or as a subject of
urgent discussion: Would you pre°fer this ochair?

2. The Low Drop is also used when we are trying to keep someone to the point, to make him give a
straight answer to a straight question: Will you be °there by six?

3. Questions beginning with “Will you…?” are more often than not imperatives: Will you be quiet! –
Will you °stop pestering me!

4. With negative questions of this kind the Low Drop gives an exclamatory effect: Isn’t it wonderful! -
Wouldn’t you °think they’d do something about it?

5. In alternative questions, the Low Drop is used to mark the last of possibilities, the previous ones
having tone groups with a rising nuclear tone: Would you like tea | or coffee? ||

6. Question tags:

» The Low Drop is used when the preceding tone group ends with a Low Fall Nuclear Tone and
when the speaker is demanding agreement from the listener: What a beautiful l day, | isn’t it?

» Question tags used as comments on statements made by other speakers with the Low Drop
convey either hostility or lack of interest:

 John broke the car. Did he?


1. They sound very serious and very strong. The speaker appears to take it for granted that he or she
will be obeyed: Come and have dinner with us. – Don’t be ridiculous. – For heaven’s °sake be

2. This tone group is particularly common with commands containing do and please: Do stop tickling.
– Please be quiet.

3. The Low Drop can usually be used for short commands. These sound unemotional, calm, controlled,
often cold: Don’t. – Take it. – Sit, oFido. – Gently, you clumsy man.


1. The Low Drop is perfectly suitable for interjections with a head because of to the power it implies:
Oh, good! | How ri diculous. - What nonsense! – You lazy °good for nothing wretch!

Anatomy: (Low Pre-head +) (High Head +) High Fall Nuclear Tone [ ]


1. Statements with the High Drop also sound definite and complete but they no longer sound reserved
or detached as with the Low Drop. On the contrary, they give the impression of involvement in the
situation, of participation, and of a lightness and airiness. The lightness of the High Drop is an
indicator of warmth, because of this the High Drop is frequently used in everyday conversations:

» What time is it? It’s half past twelve. || I didn’t °realize how late
it was.

» How did the game go? Very well. || We won sur prisingly easily.

» Can you come and see me? I’m a fraid I can’t. || I’ve got to °catch a train.

Wh- Questions:

1. The High Drop is probably the most common way of asking these questions. It avoids the
seriousness and urgency of the Low Drop, and such question sound brisk, considerate and not
unfriendly: What’s the time? – When did you ar rive? – How °long did it °take you to get here?

2. If there is no head and the High Fall Nuclear Tone occurs on the wh- word the questions sound bright
and interested:

 I saw the Queen today. Where?

 I know an easy way to do it. But how?

 We’ll meet tomorrow. Well when shall we omeet?

Yes / No Questions:

1. Yes / No questions asked with the High Drop are put forward as suggestions or as subjects for
discussion and decision. The difference is that the Low Drop sound more serious, where the High
Drop sounds lighter and less urgent. Often enough the speaker puts the question so that he may
answer it himself negatively; he may therefore sound doubtful about the result.

 John says he’s got an alibi. Can he prove it? || (I doubt it.)

 Shall we tell Frank about it? Dare we risk it?

 Shall we try again? Well would it be °any use?

2. Question tags:

» The can have the High Fall Nuclear Tone on the special finite when the preceding word group
ends either with a High Fall or with a rising nuclear tone of some kind. In either case, as with the
Low Drop, the speaker is demanding agreement: You’re not frightened, | are you?

» Used as independent comments, these phrases express mild surprise but acceptance of the
listener’s statement:

 I like it here. Do you? || (I’m glad of that. I thought you


 She’s thirty-five. Is she? || (I thought she was younger.)


1. With the High Drop commands seem to suggest a course of action, rather than to give an order, as
they do with the Low Drop; and even if the intention is to give an order, the speaker does not seem to
be worrying whether he or she will be obeyed or not:

 How much d’you want for it? Make me an offer.

 This tea’s too cold. Put some more milk in it.…………………………………...


1. The High Drop here expresses mild surprise, with very much less power and impact than the Low
Drop; and the speaker sounds less reserved:

 Good morning, Jack. Good morning, oFred. || (I didn’t expect to see you

Anatomy: (Low Pre-head +) (Low Head +) Low Rise Nuclear Tone [ ]


1. Statements with the Take-Off invite a further contribution to the conversation from the listener. It
shows that you are not done talking and still have something to add to the conversation:

 Good morning, Mr. Thomson. (Good morning.). || It’s a nice day.

 Hullo, Frank. (Hullo, Jimmy). || You’re looking overy smart. ||

(Going to a wedding?)

2. Usually the speaker gives the impression that he or she is not sure about the other’s intention and
needs to hear more from that other person:

 Have you any money on you? Yes.

 Can I have your autograph? If you like.

3. This tone group is often used to appeal to the listener to change his attitude, which the speaker
considers wrong:

 What a terrible play. It wasn’t as obad as oall that.

 I shall have to sack him. You can’t do that. || (He’s too useful.)

4. Very common is the use of this tone group for resentful contradiction:

 You haven’t written that letter. Yes I have. || (I wrote it this morning.)

 There’s our train. No it is not. || (It is the next one.)

5. This tone group is also used for continuative purposes; to show that there is more to be said, as, for
example, in enumerations. It can be used in non-final tone groups because the speaker is not done
talking: One, | two, | three, | four, | five, |. However, if the enumeration is completed the last
item has a falling tone: You can have coffee, | or tea, | or cocoa. ||

Wh- Questions:

1. These types of questions are not common with the Take-Off. However, when the nucleus falls on the
interrogative word, the effect may be either of repeating the listener’s question or of asking for
information to be repeated. In both cases the questioner’s tone is wondering, as though he was
puzzled that such question was asked or that such information was given to him or her:

 The meeting’s at five. When? || (I thought it was at six.)

 How did he do it? How did he °do it? || (Perfectly obvious.)

Yes / No Questions:

1. Such questions almost invariably express disapproval or skepticism and should only be used where
this is appropriate:

 I’m sorry now that I did it. Are you really °sorry?

 You mean to say you’re getting Is it so overy sur prising?


2. Uncommon to use but when used as independent comments, question tags said with the Take-Off
show exactly the same disapproval and skepticism:

 I saw you on Wednesday. Did you? || (I thought it was Thursday.)

3. Question tags having this tone group do NOT express disapproval or skepticism. Nor do they demand
confirmation of the speaker’s view. They leave the listener free to answer either yes or no, though it
is very clear that the speaker inclines to one view rather that the other and that the listener’s

agreement with that view is expected: It’s about ten o clock, | isn’t it? - You didn’t feel °very
well, | did you?

4. Direct question tags always have the Take-Off:

 What a lovely dress! You like it, | do you?

 I slapped John’s face today. You’ve quarreled with him, | have you?

5. The question tags will you?, won’t you?, would you? are commonly used after imperative forms in
order to make it plain that the command is in fact a form of invitation:
 Come and sit down, | won’t you?

 Come over here a ominute, | will you?

 Make mine a sherry, | would you?


1. In those beginning with Don’t, when the effect is of appealing to the listener, exactly as with

 I’m going to sack him. Don’t do that. || (He’s not a bad chap.)

 I’m afraid I’ve broken it. Don’t oworry about that.

2. With short commands when they are intended as rather calm warning or exhortation: Careful. –
Steady. – Watch. – A gain. With either of the Drops these examples would sound more like orders
and less like appeals.


1. They are rarely said with this tone group. Some short interjections said in this way seem to imply
reserved judgment and to require more explanation from the hearer:

 John says he can’t come. Oh. || (Why not?)

 It’s half past ten. Well. || (We are not in a hurry.)

Anatomy: (Low Pre-head +) High Head + Low Rise Nuclear Tone [ ]
High Pre-head + Low Rise Nuclear Tone [ ]


1. Such statements tend to sound soothing and comforting. The information is given as a means of put
the listener’s mind at ease. The speaker sound a bit self-confident and self-reliant:

 Where are you going? Just to °post a letter.

 I’ve no head for heights. It’s all right. || You won’t fall.

2. In echoed statements, i.e. those which repeat more or less what has just been said by the other
person, this tone group turns the statement into a surprised and disbelieving question.

 I said he was a liar. You actually °called him a liar?

 He’s broken his leg. Broken his leg?

3. It is frequently used in non-final groups because the speaker still has things to say and it creates the
expectancy on the listener that those things will be very interesting: When I ar rived | there was
nobody at home. – As soon as you see him | tell him I’m here.

Wh- Questions:

1. By using the Low Bounce with wh- questions the speaker seeks to establish a bond with the listener,
to show interest not only in receiving the information asked for but also in the listener himself. It is
a very common way of asking these questions to children. Among adults too can be used for an
opening question (first question in a conversation), when the speaker wants to make absolutely clear
that his inquiry is a polite and friendly one:

 (Hullo, darling.) || What have you °got there?

 What train are you °thinking of °catching?

2. In echoed questions this tone group shows disapproval of the question being asked:

 When are you going home? When am I °going home? || (How dare you!)

 How long will you be? How long? || (How on Earth should I know)

Yes / No Questions:

1. The Low Bounce is by far the most common way of asking yes-no questions, it should be regarded
as the normal way: Are you °coming with us? – Did you °enjoy the play last °night? – Would you
mind °moving a long a bit?


1. Commands with the Low Bounce have the soothing effect of statements. They imply that the speaker
is somehow in a kind of superior position to the listener, with the result that the speaker sounds
encouraging: Come to Daddy. – Don’t worry. – Blow your nose, °dear. – Move a long, °please.


1. This tone group is rather commonly used with a few interjections. The effect is rather brighter than
with the Take-Off, not so reserved, but still quite airy and casual and with an encouraging effect:

 I’ll see you tomorrow. Right you are!

 I’ve managed it at last. Well done!

 It’s my exam tomorrow. Good luck!

 Shall I stand there? Yes, please.

2. Greetings very frequently employ this tone group, when they sound bright and friendly: Good

Anatomy: (Low Pre-head +) (Falling Head +) Fall-Rise Nuclear Tone [ ] (+ Low Tail)


1. The simples case is that of non-final word groups, where the Fall-Rise draws particular attention to
one element for the purpose of contrast, and at the same time shows an intention to continue the
utterance: On weekends | I work, || but on Saturdays | I don’t. || - When ever I °see him in the
evening | he’s drunk. ||

2. When there is situation of grudging admission, that is when the speaker agrees on the subject being
discussed but he or she has reservations about it (has something to say about it):

 I’d like it as soon as possible. You could have it by dinner otime. || (But not

 Can I take this one? You can if you like. || (But the other one’s

3. When a speaker explicitly requires a concession from his listener about part of the subject but implies
agreement on the reminder, we call this defensive dissent (a form of disagreeing but the speaker
sounds defensive):

 I’d like it by tomorrow. I doubt whether I can °do it by then. || (But it

won’t be much later.)

 You look cold. I’m not e°xactly cold. || (Just a bit shivering now
and then.)

 Everyone’s gone home. Not everyone. || (Most have, but I am still here)

4. The Switchback is also commonly used to make contradictions and correct other people, often
sounding concerned, reproachful or hurt:

 When’s he due? On Monday? On Tuesday.

 I play golf rather well. You think you odo.

5. The same concerned, reproachful, hurt attitude is apparent also in direct contradictions:

 It didn’t take you long. It did. || (It took ages.)

 Matt won’t be here today. I think he will.

6. The same attitude of concern or reproach is found in warnings: You’ll fall. – You’ll miss your train.
– You’d better be °careful with the fragile oones.

7. In apologies, this tone group tends to suggest reservations from the speaker: I’m sorry. || (But I’m
afraid it’s impossible.)

8. Other category in which the Switchback is often used is in that of tentative suggestions, where the
speaker wants to help but not to commit himself too deeply to the course suggested:

 We need another player. You could ask Damon.

 When can we meet? Tuesday omight be a possiobility.


1. In echoed questions, whether of the wh- or the yes-no kind, the effect of the Switchback is of
astonishment, as if the speaker can hardly believe his ears:

 Are you going to the party? Am I ogoing?! || (Well, of course I am!)

 What’s the matter? What’s the matter?! || (Everything’s the matter!)

2. The Switchback is also used to make corrections to questions, as to statements:

 How will Henry get home? How will Jane get ohome, you omean. || (Henry’s
journey’s simple.)

 Is Lucy going to play? Is she willing to oplay, you omean.


1. Commands with the Switchback have a warning note, but more urgency than with either the
Take-Off or the Low-Bounce: Careful with that glass! || (You’ll drop it.) – Mind! || (There’s a step


1. A very few interjections of scorn take the Switchback:

 Did you lend him any money? Not I!

 Will you give in? Not likely!

Anatomy: (Low Pre-head +) Rising Head + High Fall Nuclear Tone [ ]


1. Statements with this tone group have the definiteness and completeness of all falling tone groups. It
shares the sense of participation and involvement of the High Drop. In addition, the Long Jump adds
an attitude of protest, as if the speaker were complaining or suffering under a sense of injustice:

 You ought to have told me. I didn’t °think it was im portant.

Wh- Questions:

1. They are similar to statements. They are produced in a way that shows evidence of protest or

 I told David about it. Why did you do that? || (it wasn’t necessary.)

 John’s here. How on earth did he °manage to get here. || (The

roads flooded.)

Yes / No Questions:

1. With this tone group, yes-no questions are put forward as subject of discussion and decision. In
addition, they get the overtone of protest, that the question is crucial:

 I can’t think who to turn to. Would it be °any °good °trying John?

 I can’t do it today. Well can you do it to morrow, then?


1. As with the High Drop, commands with the High Jump are not so much orders as recommendations
for a course of action. At the same time, the speaker expresses surprise and some criticism that such
course has not occurred to the listener before:

 What on earth shall I do? Try it a gain. || (You’ve no alternative.)

 I wish Ann didn’t dislike me so. Well don’t be so rude to her in ofuture.


1. Interjections with the Long Jump also show protest and complaint. The speaker seems to feel he has
been taken, perhaps unfairly, by surprise and that some explanation is due to him:

 Matt refuses to come. What an ex°traordinary thing.

 But I really wanted them. What a pity you °didn’t °say so sooner!

Anatomy: (Low Pre-head +) (High Head +) High Rise Nuclear Tone [ ]


1. Complete statements said with the High Bounce have the effect of questions in most cases:

 You like him? means Do you like him?

 Sugar? means Do you take sugar?

 He’s definitely means Is he °definitely going?


2. Very often this tone group is used in echoed statements to elicit a repetition by the listener of
something he or she has said; it is as if the speaker were saying: Did you say…? or Did you mean…?

 It’s your fault. My fault?

 It isn’t fair. Not fair, did you °say?

3. The High Bounce is also used in non-final word groups to suggest continuation. It sounds somewhat
casual compared to the Take-Off or the Low Bounce in similar circumstances: You can have milk, | or
tea, | or coffee || – I like the colour, | the shape, | and the pattern ||

Wh- Questions:

1. When the nuclear tone is on the interrogative word, the High Bounce calls for the repetition of
information already given, as does the Take-Off, but the wondering, puzzled flavor of the Take-Off is
absent: What was his °name again? || (I’ve forgotten.) – When did you °say he was coming? - He’s
coming for how long?

2. When the nuclear tone is not on the interrogative word, the speaker is often echoing the listener’s
question in order to get it clear in his mind before giving an answer:

 When‘s he arriving? When’s he ar riving? || (Is that what you asked?)

3. When the nuclear tone is on the interrogative word; then it would be this particular word that the
speaker wants to get clear:

 When’s he arriving? When? || (Or where?)

4. This tone group can be used in straightforward wh- questions just like the Low Bounce. The
difference lies in that they will sound much more tentative and casual than with the Low Bounce, as if
avoid the appearance of prying: When can we meet? || (Sometime on Thursday.)

Yes / No Questions:

1. You can have echoed questions with this tone group:

 Is it raining? Is it raining did you say?

2. Genuine yes-no questions may be asked with this tone group, especially if they are to sound more
casual and lighter:

 I don’t know what to do. Can I °help you at °all?

3. This tone group is particularly common with short comments of the following type, designed to keep
the conversation going: I’ve just seen Matt. – Have you? // He said he was tired. - Did he?

Commands and Interjections:

1. The High Bounce is used with these to question a part or all the utterance of the listener and
elucidate his exact meaning, with no particular critical intention:

 Take it home. Take it home? || (Is that what you said?)

 Don’t! Don’t? || (Why not?)

 What a shame! What a shame? || (Why?)

Anatomy: (Low Pre-head +) (High Head +) Rise-Fall Nuclear Tone [ ]


1. It implies definiteness, but it also shows that the speaker is greatly impressed, perhaps awed:

 Have you heard about Louis? Yes! | (Isn’t it scandalous!)

2. The Jackknife is very often used in echoing and immediately prior remark, in order to show how
impressed the speaker is, whether favorably or not:

 I got two hundred pounds of it. Two hundred!

3. With this tone group the speaker often sounds self-satisfied, even smug (talking in a way that
suggests that you are superior than other people):

 Are you sure? Certain.

 Matt’s failed his driving test. I’m not sur prised.

4. This tone group can be very well used to expressions of a challenging or censorious attitude:

 I don’t like the man. You’ve never even spoken to him.

 He thinks you’re afraid. He can think what he likes.

5. With the Jackknife sometimes the speaker gives the impression that her or she has nothing to do
with the subject being dealt, and therefore that any responsibility is due to him or her:

 May I take this chair? Certainly.

6. This tone group has an intensifying function very similar to the use of the word even: (It does’n need
an expert.) I could odo it. (= Even I…)

Wh- Questions:

1. The Jackknife gives to these questions a note of challenge and antagonism, which is usually
equivalent to the word but placed before the question or the word though after it:

 He’s rather a nuisance. Why not tell him so?

 I’m worried about the situation. What’s it °got to °do with you?

 You could surely find some money (But) where?


2. As with statements, there is often a disclaiming of responsibility for the situation:

 I’ve had this pain for years. Why don’t you do something aobout it?

Yes / No Questions:

1. The Jackknife is very commonly found with comments of the type below, where it shows that the
speaker accepts what has been said and is impressed by it, either favourably or unfavourably:

 They’ve nowhere to live. Haven’t they!

2. Negative questions forms used exclamatory again show that the speaker is vastly impressed,
favourably or not:

 What do you think of my roses? Aren’t they olovely!

3. This tone group is used with question tags when the preceding word group also has the Rise-Fall as its
nuclear tone and the speaker wishes to compel agreement:

 It’s terrible, | isn’t it?  You can hardly blame her, | can you?


1. The main contribution of the Jackknife with commands is again a matter of shrugging off
responsibility, of refusing to be embroiled:

 Which one of these hats shall I buy? Please your self.

 Could you help? You °fight your own obattles.


1. When the speaker uses the Jackknife with interjections he or she sounds greatly impressed by
something not entirely expected:

 You can borrow my Jaguar. Thank you.

 Had your twenty-first yet? Heavens oyes!

 Sally’s just had triplets. My goodness!

Anatomy: (Low Pre-head +) (High Head +) High Fall [ ]+ (Low Accents +) Low Rise [ ]


1. Contrary to the Fall-Rise of the Switchback, the Fall plus Rise of the High Dive implies no ifs and no

 I’ve got some chocolate here. Oh good. || I like chocolate. || Pass it over. ||

 I’ve got some chocolate here. Oh dear. || I like ochocolate, | but it makes me

2. In the High Dive, the Fall is used to mark the most important idea in a plain statement, while the Low
rise indicates a kind of secondary importance idea that follows the main idea. Furthermore, the Low
Rise constitutes an appeal to the listener and invites him or her to say something more about the
subject of the previous conversation:

 I’m going to Glasgow tomorrow. Really? || My mother came from Glasgow.

Mother, which is new, is clearly more important than Glasgow, which has already been mentioned,
and the way is open for the conversation to continue.

3. Often the High Fall occurs on the last important word of the subject of the sentence and the Low Rise
on the last important word of the predicate:

 Who could help me? Matt would be the best °guy.

 Is this mine? No, | the small red one’s yours.

 Who’s next? The little old °man in the corner’s been owaiting

4. On the other hand the main verb may be the most important feature, with the complement less so:

 Turn it clockwise. I’ve tried odoing it that °way.

 D’you like my hat? Lovely. || I’ve always wanted one like that.

5. This tone group can be used when the speaker’s opinion or judgment is confirmed correct:

 She’s wearing a wedding ring. I thought she was married.

 He’s gone bankrupt. I heard he was in trouble.

 I can’t understand it. I told you you’d ofind it difficult.

In the first example wedding ring implies marriage, so married here is less important than thought;
and the High Fall on thought implies that the speaker’s opinion was correct.

6. The same reasoning applies to knowing, to confirm the speaker’s certainty:

 It won’t work. I knew it owouldn’t be oany good.

 They went bankrupt. I somehow knew they’d oburn their fingers.

7. Expressions of gladness, regret and surprise usually have the High Dive, with the High Fall on the
appropriate emotive word, provided that the subject of the emotion is obvious to both the speaker
and the listener:

 John’s arrived I’m glad he was oable to come.

 We must go. I’m sorry you ocan’t stay longer.

If there’s an extra intensifying word like: so, very, extremely, etc, the High Fall takes place on that: I’m
awfully osorry you ocan’t stay longer. - I’m so happy.

8. The intensifying use of do and other special finites is treated in the same way:

 He’s a fool. I do think you’re obeing un kind.



1. For commands, unlike questions, the High Dive is quite common. The High Fall takes place on the
main verb in affirmative commands, on don’t in negative commands, and on do or please used as
intensifiers. The effect is of pleading or persuading rather than ordering:

 I’ll be back by midnight. Try onot to be oany later.

 I’m going to see Caroline. Do try and perosuade her to come.

 Will you be all right? Please don’t oworry about me.

All commands with the High Dive are much more like requests than orders; this is no doubt why
commands occur quite commonly with the High Dive.


1. The High Dive is used with is used with the same kind of interjections as the Low Bounce; and its
effect is similar to that of the Low Bounce, but much more intense:

 I’ll see you tomorrow. Right you are.

 I’ve managed to it at last. Well done.

 Do make up the fire. All right. || (Don’t go on about it. I was just going.)

It is however probably preferable for the foreign learner to use this intensity sparingly and to stick to
the Low Bounce for such expressions.

Anatomy: (Low Pre-head +) (High Head +) Mid-Level [ > ]

The Terrace can be used in all sentence types: (in non-final word groups) making non-finality without
conveying any impression of expectancy.

In STATEMENTS and INTERJECTIONS it can be found in final word groups, and then it gives an impression of
calling out to someone, as if at distance:

 Where are you, John? >

Just coming.

 What did you say? >

Dinner’s ready.

 I’ve brought you a sandwich. > >

Good girl! || Thank you!