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Natural English Rhythm: Compound Nouns and Phrasal Verbs


In this lesson we’re going to practice an essential element to more natural sounding rhythm in spoken English: word stress.

We’ll practice compound nouns and phrasal verbs together and you'll discover how shifting the emphasized word within a phrase can change its meaning and grammatical structure.

Practice words and sentences used in this lesson:


NOUN: workout (a period of physical exercise)

That was an intense workout.

PHRASAL VERB: work out (the actual act of exercising)

I haven’t worked out for weeks.

SET and UP

NOUN: setup (the arrangement of organization of things)

It took me a few days to get used to the setup in the new office.

I love the setup in your living room. It’s so cozy!


PHRASAL VERB: set up (to arrange)

Let’s set up a meeting for next week.

How should we set up the living room? I want it to be cozy!



NOUN: lookout (a place where a person can see an area around them, especially an area of natural beauty)

There are many scenic lookouts along the Pacific Coast Highway.


PHRASAL VERB: look out (to watch what is happening and be careful)

Look out! There’s a car coming!


NOUN: tryout (a test/audition to see how useful or effective something or someone is)

Tryouts start this Wednesday.


PHRASAL VERB: try out (to test something or someone or compete for a position on a team or in a play)

Why don’t you try it out for a few days and see what you think?

You can try out the program for 7 days before your card is charged.

She’s decided to try out for the swim team.


NOUN: checkout (a place where you pay for an item or pay the check)

The checkout is at the front of the store.


PHRASAL VERB: check out (to pay and leave, to examine something closely/try it)

We need to check out of the hotel by 11am.


NOUN: turnoff (something you don’t like)

Those protruding nose hairs are a real turnoff.

I don’t want to buy that house. It smells like wet dogs. That’s a real turnoff.


PHRASAL VERB: turn off (to stop something from operating, no longer on)

Don’t forget to turn off the stove.

Did you turn off the lights?


NOUN: cutback (less of something)

The company announced a temporary cutback in hiring.

PHRASAL VERB: cut back (to use less of something)

We need to cut back on our spending.

LOG and IN

NOUN: login (the set of letters and numbers that you write on a computer screen in order to connect to a computer system)

I can’t remember my login.


PHRASAL VERB: log in (to connect to a computer system using a set of numbers and or letters)

Once you register, you should be able to log in.

You're expected to log in every morning by 8.


NOUN: letdown (a disappointment)

The movie was a major letdown.


PHRASAL VERB: let down (the act of disappointing)

I don’t want to let you down.

MIX and UP

NOUN: mixup (a mistake that causes confusion)

Sorry for the mixup with the delivery.


PHRASAL VERB: mixed up (to be confused or disordered)

The files are all mixed up.


NOUN: sign-up (an occasion when you start doing or having something, a sheet, a fee)

Where can I find the sign-up page?

What’s the sign-up fee?


PHRASAL VERB: sign up (to join a group or organization)

I just signed up for Keenyn’s pronunciation training program.

Are you going to sign up?



NOUN: dropout (a person who leaves before finishing, typically school- high school or college)

He’s a high school dropout.


PHRASAL VERB: drop out (to stop doing something before you have finished, to quit)

He dropped out of college and joined the Navy.

He decided to drop out of the race.

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