What is Intonation?

Intonation makes it possible to understand the expressions and thoughts that go with the words. It is how we say things, rather than what we say.

Intonation is divided into phrases, known as tone-units. In each tone unit, there is a pitch range, where the pitch moves up and down. These patterns of pitch variation are essential to a phrase’s meaning. Changing the intonation can completely change the meaning of the words.

Early readers are often so busy decoding words that intonation suffers. Yet intonation is as important as getting the word right. Incorrect intonation can change the meaning of a sentence or phrase.