Syllables are single units of speech, the phonological building blocks of words, and always include a vowel (or vowel-like) sound.

By kindergarten, children know how to clap to identify the number of syllables in words, and understand that words can have one, two, or more syllables. In first grade, children learn that every syllable has a vowel (or vowel sound), and begin to recognize and use syllables to decode words. Understanding syllables and learning to segment words not only helps children master phonics, but also plays a vital role in learning to spell, read and pronounce words correctly.

Later, students learn that syllables play an important role in spoken English, influencing the rhythm of the language, its meter and stress patterns.

The most common patterns found in segmenting words.Close

  1. Always divide after the prefix: pre|view
  2. Always divide before the suffix: mo|tion
  3. When one or more consonants are followed by “le”, count back three and divide: ta|ble (Note: This rule does NOT apply to works that end in “ckle,” like “pickle”).
  4. When there are two consonants in the middle, you should divide the word between the consonants, unless they blend into one sound, such as “ph” or “ch”: rab|bit
  5. When one consonant appears between two vowels, it will most likely be in the same syllable as the second vowel: si|lent
  6. Divide between compound words: sun|rise
  7. Divide before a single middle consonant when the vowel sound before it is long: o|pen
  8. Divide after the middle consonant when the vowel sound before it is short: hab|it
  9. Divide between two vowels that don’t blend to make one sound: be|ing

View Common Core State Standards Related to SyllablesClose

Common Core State Standards Related to Syllables

Demonstrate understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds (phonemes).

Count, pronounce, blend, and segment syllables in spoken words.

Demonstrate understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds (phonemes).

Use knowledge that every syllable must have a vowel sound to determine the number of syllables in a printed word.

Decode two­syllable words following basic patterns by breaking the words into syllables.

Decode regularly spelled two­syllable words with long vowels.

Decode multisyllable words.

Use spelling patterns and generalizations (e.g., word families, position­based spellings, syllable patterns, ending rules, meaningful word parts) in writing words.

View Words at a GlanceClose

1-Syllable Words: lamp, ball, sky, desk, cat, dog, map, with, tree, pool

2-Syllable Words: answer, doctor, teacher, summer, tennis, guitar, balloon, paper, picture, giraffe

3-Syllable Words: computer, telephone, rectangle, fortunate, develop, tomato, magazine, volunteer, seventeen, fantastic

4-Syllable Words: kindergarten, alligator, watermelon, harmonica, television, delivery, microscopic, graduation, necessary, understanding

5-Syllable Words: hippopotamus, undeniable, accumulation, observatory, qualification, neurological, capitalism, refrigerator, curiosity, characteristic

6-Syllable Words: dermatological, experimentally, familiarization, responsibility, unilaterally, predictability, respectability, revolutionary, fundamentalism, biodegradable

7-Syllable Words: aristocratically, gastroenterologist, immeasurability, justifiability, nanotechnological, thermoelectricity, ultranationalistic, vernacularization, demineralization, characteristically

Words with 8 or more Syllables: unconstitutionality, autosuggestibility, electroencephalogram, microspectrophotometer, unintelligibility, electromagnetivity, antidisestablishmentarianism, palaeoanthropologically, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, deoxyribonucleic provides word lists, printables, and interactive games and activities that give students the opportunity to identify syllables and practice decoding multisyllable words.

Try Sentence Writing Practice with the 2-Syllable Words list.