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What are feet and how do I use them?
There are a lot of different terms associated with prosody but perhaps one of the most important introductory concepts to learn is that of metrical feet.

This article will look at the four most common metrical feet which are:

1) Iamb
2) Trochee
3) Anapest
4) Dactyl

The iamb is one of the most common feet. Each foot has a different combination of stressed and unstressed syllables. An iamb begins with an unstressed syllable and ends with a stressed syllable.
In the word re/gain, you’ll notice the red shaded part of the word has more emphasis put on it when you read it aloud. That emphasis is what we refer to as the accent on a specific syllable.

The trochee Is the opposite of an iamb. In this foot we begin with a stressed syllable and end with an unstressed syllables. Many names are structured as a trochee.
For instance the name Pat/rick is a trochee. Saying it aloud you can hear how the emphasis is on the first syllable.

The anapest is our first three-syllable foot. This one is structured with two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable.
A good example is the word un/der/stand. Here again the stress is on the red syllable.

Just as the iamb has its mirror image in the form of a trochee so too does the anapest in the form of a dactyl. With a stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables, this foot is not as common. A good example is the word bi/cy/cle.

Understanding these feet and recognizing them takes practice. Speaking words aloud and in a natural rhythm can help you begin to identify by sound the number of stressed and unstressed syllables in words. Then you can practice identifying what type of feet make up a word. Keep in mind a sentence may break up feet over parts of words as well.

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