TOEFL Pronunciation and Sentence Structure

Educational Testing Service uses artificial intelligence to evaluate your TOEFL pronunciation and sentence structure.  Therefore, this blog post will teach you how tone and pacing relates to four sentence structure types. Learning tone and pacing with simple, compound, complex, and compound/complex sentences will help you have improved delivery and language-use during the speaking section. Practice makes perfect, right? So, let’s get started.

TOEFL Pronunciation and Sentence Structure

TOEFL Pronunciation and Sentence Structure: Pacing and Tone with Simple Sentences

A simple sentence consists of one subject and one verb.  Simple sentences shorter than 10 words can be spoken with no pauses. In addition, use falling tone at the end.

  • Nine word simple sentence: The reading passage discusses a concept called scope creep.

Simple sentences longer than 10 words will need a pause at logical breaks. You should use a slightly higher inflection at each pause. Use falling tone at the end of the sentence.

  • Twenty-three word simple sentence: I prefer riding bicycles over running, especially during the summer and fall seasons of the year and after having a busy day at work. 

TOEFL Pronunciation and Sentence Structure: Compound Sentences, Tone, and Pacing

A compound sentence consists of two independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction. Keep in mind the following pronunciation tips with compound sentences:

  • Make a short pause with a slightly higher inflection at the end of the first independent clause.
  • If either independent clause is longer than 10 words, you will need to make another pause at a logical break.  Use a higher inflection at this break.
  • Use a falling tone at the end of the sentence.

A compound sentence with two short independent clauses: Lana went shopping at the store, and then she returned to her dorm to study.

A compound sentence with longer independent clauses:  The author in the reading passage explains three theories regarding the extinction of dinosaurs, and the speaker in the listening passage casts doubt on the validity of these three theories.


Tone, Pacing, and Complex Sentences

A complex sentence consists of a noun, adjective, or adverb dependent clause, and an independent clause.

  • Pause after the first clause with a slightly higher inflection.
  • Use a falling tone when you come to the end of your sentence.
  • If the dependent or independent clause is longer than ten words, find a logical break in the middle, in which case you should make a short pause with a slightly higher tone.

Short complex sentence: Bubba went to the game last week because he wanted to see the new baseball pitcher.

Long complex sentence:  Whereas the reading passage explains that children learn through imitation, through correction and reinforcement, and by constructing their own rules, the speaker in the lecture casts doubt on each of those assertions.

Compound/Complex Sentences, Pacing, and Tone

This type of sentence consists of a compound and complex sentence. In this case, you will have at least three pauses.

  • Pause after both independent clauses. Use a rising tone after each clause. If it is the last clause in the sentence, you should drop your tone to show that you are finished.
  • Pause after a dependent clause. However, if it is the last clause in the sentence, use a falling tone.
  • If a dependent or independent clause is longer than 10 words, find a logical break in the sentence. Pause at that break, and use a slightly higher tone. If, however, it is the last dependent clause, use a falling tone.

Short compound/complex sentence: Because I scored high on the TOEFL exam, I was admitted into Harvard, but my friend scored poorly.


Long compound/complex sentence: Professor Chang, who teaches linguistics at California State University, San Bernardino, has more than 25 years of teaching experience, and he has published more than 26 books and 33 research articles.


Finally, you have now learned about TOEFL Pronunciation and Sentence Structure. Therefore, consider joining my TOEFL Speaking and Writing Service so that you can get accent reduction feedback as you prepare for the TOEFL exam.

Good luck!


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