Today’s Accent Reduction ProTip addresses how to pronounce compound proper nouns. The English language has its own rhythm of intonation which is different from many languages where each syllable in a word is pronounced with the same level of emphasis. If you want to achieve your goal of speaking English as a second language, more fluently and lessen misplaced and distracting accented sounds, then it is important to recognize how and when to stress parts of words, especially compound proper nouns.

A proper noun names an individual person, place, or organization and always begins with a capital letter, no matter its position in a sentence. For example: Mary, California, and Google are all proper nouns. A compound proper noun is a proper noun with more than one word. You frequently use compound proper nouns in your everyday interactions when you need to refer to an individual’s full name, job titles, specific addresses, and sporting events.

The rule for pronouncing compound proper nouns is to stress the last word.

This means that the last word in a compound proper noun is said louder and longer than the other parts of the compound proper noun. So with this simple rule in mind, let’s look at some examples. The compound proper nouns in bold are the words that are stressed.

  • Mr. Charles Rodriguez – Today I have a meeting with Mr. Charles Rodriguez.
  • Secretary of State – The Secretary of State gave a speech yesterday.
  • New York, Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island – When you are in New York, please visit the Statue of Liberty on Ellis Island.
  • LeBron James & Cleveland Cavaliers – LeBron James plays basketball for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Knowing and understanding the patterns of intonation is something completely natural for native English speakers. By learning the rule for using word stress on compound proper nouns, English as a second language speakers can quickly move from practice to application in their conversation skills to sound more articulate, confident and dynamic in their communications.

To learn more about how to improve your English pronunciation, please visit Atlas Speech at

Thank you,

Eric Maki

Director of Atlas Speech Coaching