Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Basic Syllable Rules

1. To find the number of syllables:
---count the vowels in the word,
---subtract any silent vowels, (like the silent "e" at the end of a word or the second vowel when two vowels a together in a syllable)
---subtract one vowel from every dipthong, (diphthongs only count as one vowel sound.)
---the number of vowels sounds left is the same as the number of syllables.
The number of syllables that you hear when you pronounce a word is the same as the number of vowels sounds heard. For example:
The word "came" has 2 vowels, but the "e" is silent, leaving one vowel sound and one syllable.
The word "outside" has 4 vowels, but the "e" is silent and the "ou" is a diphthong which counts as only one sound, so this word has only two vowels sounds and therefore, two syllables.

2. Divide between two middle consonants.
Split up words that have two middle consonants. For example:
hap/pen, bas/ket, let/ter, sup/per, din/ner, and Den/nis. The only exceptions are the consonant digraphs. Never split up consonant digraphs as they really represent only one sound. The exceptions are "th", "sh", "ph", "th", "ch", and "wh".

3. Usually divide before a single middle consonant.
When there is only one syllable, you usually divide in front of it, as in:
"o/pen", "i/tem", "e/vil", and "re/port". The only exceptions are those times when the first syllable has an obvious short sound, as in "cab/in".

4. Divide before the consonant before an "-le" syllable.
When you have a word that has the old-style spelling in which the "-le" sounds like "-el", divide before the consonant before the "-le". For example: "a/ble", "fum/ble", "rub/ble" "mum/ble" and "thi/stle". The only exception to this are "ckle" words like "tick/le".

5. Divide off any compound words, prefixes, suffixes and roots which have vowel sounds.
Split off the parts of compound words like "sports/car" and "house/boat". Divide off prefixes such at "un/happy", "pre/paid", or "re/write". Also divide off suffixes as in the words "farm/er", "teach/er", "hope/less" and "care/ful". In the word "stop/ping", the suffix is actually "-ping" because this word follows the rule that when you add "-ing" to a word with one syllable, you double the last consonant and add the "-ing".

MORE Syllabication Rules & Tips

A syllable is a single speech part which has only one vowel sound, even tho it may have more than one adjoining vowels. Multiple vowels may make the vowel sound together. e.g. dead, true, weak. There may or may not be combined consonant sounds. When you speak a syllable, your mouth opens and closes-- your jaw drops once. Every time you speak a syllable, your speech has a single beat. The number of vowel sounds (not vowels, but the sounds!) shows you how many syllables a word has. As you learn the rules below, you will soon see the pattern of syllabication in other words.

1. P/R/S: Divide between prefixes, root words, and suffixes. e.g. sing-er, re-do, walk-ing

2. VC/CV: Two consonants between two vowels are split between consonants. e.g. per-haps, ac-cept, won-der.

2a. If the two consonants form a blend (called a diagraph), do not divide them. e.g. wish-ing, tough-er, ring-ing. These are some diagraphs: ch, sh, th, wh, ng, nk, ng, ck.

3. V/CV: One consonant between two vowels is split between vowel and following consonant, if the vowel is long. e.g. clo-ver, stu-pid, be-have, di-ver. See how the consonant goes with the second vowel?

4. VC/V: One consonant between two vowels is split after the consonant, if the vowel is accented & short. e.g. tep-id, drag-on, cam-el, riv-er. See how the consonant goes with the first vowel?

5. V/V: If the vowels have different sounds. split the word between them. e.g. ra-di-o,

6. When the last three letters are consonant and le, split before the consonant, e.g. a-ble, ta-ble, mis-er-a-ble.

7. Compound words are divided into the original two words. e.g. tom-boy, wet-suit, beach-ball. If either or both of the original words have more than one vowel sound, that word should also be divided into syllables. e.g. bask/et-ball, book-keep/er, trans-at/lan/tic.

Rules on hyphenation in writing:

1. Always hyphenate between syllables. e.g. read-ing, NOT rea-ding.

2. Never, never hyphenate a one-syllable word!

I don't know the reasoning behind these last two rules, but it is better to follow the traditional method until someone comes up with something else.

3. When you hyphenate a word, the syllable at the end of the line and at the beginning of the following line should have at least three letters. If you can't manage that, just put the whole word on the following line.

4. Words of five or less letters should not be hyphenated from line to line, even though they have more than one syllable (see Rule # 3).

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