What Is a Syllable? (with Examples)

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What Is a Syllable? (with Examples)

A syllable is a single segment of uninterrupted sound which is typically produced with a single pulse of air from the lungs.

A syllable is made up of one or more letters with a vowel sound at its core.

A syllable which ends in a consonant is called a closed syllable. A syllable which ends in a vowel sound is called an open syllable.

Examples of Syllables

Each new syllable will create a new vowel sound. For example:
  • Mississippi
  • (Four syllables: "Miss" + "iss" + "ipp" + "i")
  • Rugged
  • (Two syllables: "rugg" + "ed")
This does not necessarily mean that every syllable will contain a vowel, but it will include a vowel sound when pronounced. For example, rhythm does not contain any vowels, but it is said with two vowel sounds ("rith" + "em"). Therefore, rhythm has two syllables.

Pronunciation Determines How Many Syllables

Spelling is not always a good indication of how many syllables a word has. The pronunciation of a word determines the number of syllables. For example:
  • screeched
  • (one syllable)
  • shrugged
  • (one syllable)
    (This is interesting because rugged has two syllables.)
Here is another example:
  • You learned a lot today.
  • (one syllable)
  • Today, you are learned gentleman.
  • (two syllables: "learn" + "ed")