How to divide English Words Into Syllables
English words into syllables is an important word attack skill for
beginning readers and for people who are learning English as a foreign
language. There are some easy rules that can help with most English
words. After reading this short article you'll be introduced to the most
common syllabification strategies you'll need whenever you encounter an
English word and need to read it or pronounce it correctly.
Say the word out loud that you want to divide into syllables. Words like
"book", "ant", and "choice" sound like they have just one part. That is
because they do. Each of these words is made up of just one syllable.
Words like "chigger", "education", "pocket", and locomotive" have more
than one syllable. Words can have many or just one syllable. If you clap
your hands more than once to match the rhythm you hear when you say a
word, it has more than one syllable. Your ears are the first tools to
use when you are dividing English words into syllables.
Know that each syllable in English contains just one vowel sound no
matter how many letters it takes to produce that sound. Look at the word
when it is spelled correctly. Make sure that you can identify English
consonants and vowels. (For a reminder, there are five vowels in
English: "a", "e", "i", "o", "u". The letters "y" and "w" also sometimes
act like vowels in English.) Often two vowels combine to form one sound
as in the word "choice". The "oi" makes a single sound as in boy. When a
word ends in the letter "e" it most often is not pronounced but it does
gives a signal to change the sound of the previous vowel. "Hat" becomes
"hate" with the addition of a silent "e". An e can also tell you to
pronounce a "c " or a "g" as though it was an "s" or a "j". Use your
ears to hear the sounds. Then match the vowel sounds to the letters.
See if there are two consonants next to each other that do not blend
together like "th", "br", "kw" or other combination to make one sound.
The word "chigger" has a double "g". The word "pocket" has a "c"
followed by a "k". Say these words out loud. Notice that you need two
claps to match the sound of each word rhythmically. Divide these words
into two syllables at the place between the two consonants.
Say the word "locomotive". This word takes four claps to match the
rhythm. There is a slight pause when you pronounce the word after each
"o". Each "o" has a long sound (long vowel sounds say the name of the
letter.) Long vowels in the middle of words signal the ends of
Say the word "education". Here there is a long "u" that stands alone as
its own syllable. The first syllable, "ed" ends with the consonant. The
third syllable, "ca" ends in a long vowel. "tion" is the last syllable
that begins and ends with a consonant and includes just one vowel sound.
This word contains most of the rules you need to divide English words
into syllables. Listen. Clap. Divide the word whenever there is a short
vowel followed by a consonant (the syllable may be like "cat" and begin
and end with a consonant. Divide the word whenever there is a long vowel
right after this vowel. Divide the word between two consonants unless
they form a blend. (Usually a blend will be at the beginning of the word