Tips for Dividing a Word into Syllables

There are five types of syllables in English:

  1. Open Syllables - include a single-letter vowel which occurs at the end of the syllable. This syllable pattern follows the spelling rules: A E O U usually say their names at the end of the syllalble, and I and Y may say their long or short sound at the end of the syllable. For example: me, cry, ta-ble, pro-tect.
  2. Closed Syllables - A closed syllable includes a single-letter vowel but the syllable ends in a consonant. In this case the single letter vowel says its short sound. For example: duck, patch, hap-pen, din-ner

  3. Multi-Letter Vowel Syllables - Multi-letter vowels are two or more letters working together to form a single vowel phonogram. (igh, ea, ui, oa, etc.) For example: night, read, fruit, boat.

  4. Consonant + le Syllables (or Consonant + re) - These words have a final syllable with a silent final E. They follow the spelling rule: Every syllable must have a written vowel. For example: ti-tle, puz-zle, un-cle, drib-ble, a-cre, mas-sa-cre.

  5. Vowel + R Syllables - The consonant R often distorts the vowel sound of the preceeding vowel. These syallables include the phonograms: ar, er, ir, or, ur, ear, wor. For example: car, her, bird, born, surface, early, word.

Here are a few tips to divide a word into syllables:

  1. Divide off any compound words - For example: book-end, car-pool, class-room.

  2. Divide the prefixes and suffixes from the baseword - For example: re-move, jump-er, price-less, un-sharp-en.

  3. Underline the vowels in the baseword - Remember, syllables are formed by the vowels. Every syllable has one and only one vowel sound. Though many vowels are written with two or more letters: For example: igh, au, ough, ay.

  4. Examine the baseword for:

    • A silent final E needed for the syllable - Count back two consonants from the silent final E and divide the syllable. For example:  ti-tle, lit-tle, puz-zle, a-cre.

    • Two vowels on either side of a double consonant - Divide the syllable between the consonants. For example: din-ner, hap-py, rub-ber, but-ter,  ap-proach.

    • Two vowels on either side of two single-letter consonants - Usually divide the syllable between the consonants - For example: un-der, bas-ket, tem-per,

    • A single consonant in the middle of the word - Usually divide the syllable before the consonant. These words follow the spelling rules: A E O U usually say their names at the end of the syllable; and I and Y may say either their long or short sounds at the end of a syllable. For example: o-pen, ro-tate, ba-by, me-ter.

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