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The Top Ten Syllable Rules

Knowing the Top Ten Syllable Rules can help improve reading, pronunciation, and spelling.

1. Every syllable has only one vowel sound. Some syllables have just one vowel; others have two. But even when there are two vowels, there can be only one vowel sound in each syllable, so the two vowels say one sound.

For example, out-side.

2. When the vowel’s at the end of a syllable, it has a long sound. Reading specialists call the Consonant-Vowel (CV) pattern an open syllable.

For example, be-low.

3. When the vowel is not at the end of a syllable, it has a short sound. Reading specialists call the Consonant-Vowel-Consonant (CVC) pattern a closed syllable.

For example, bas-ket.

4. Divide syllables between doubled consonants, unless the doubled consonant is part of a syllable that is a base word.

For example, din-ner and tell-er.

5. Usually keep vowel teams together in the same syllable.

For example, boat-ing.

6. Keep the silent final “e” and the vowel before in the same syllable. The silent final “e” makes the vowel before a long sound if there is only one consonant in between the vowel and the “e”.

For example, basement.

7. Keep the r-controlled vowels (ar, er, ir, or, and ur) in the same syllable.

For example, or-al-ly.

8. Keep the consonant-“le” sounds (ble, cle, dle, fle, gle, and ple) in the same syllable. These syllables have the schwa sound between the consonant and the “le”. The schwa sound sounds like a nasal short u.

For example, cra-dle.

9. All words have one syllable that has a primary accent. The vowel in the accented syllable receives the stress. Words may also have secondary accents. The primary accent is usually found on the vowel in the root, not the prefix or suffix. Also, the syllable before a double consonant is usually accented.

For example, slów-ly and swím-ming.

10. Unaccented vowel sounds frequently have the schwa sound, especially when there is only one letter in the syllable. All vowels can have the schwa sound.

For example, a-boút.

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