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What is a syllable and examples?

Updated: Jan 1

Answer: A syllable is a single unit of pronunciation. It always contains a vowel sound and often contains one or more consonant sounds. Words are made up of syllables.

Watch this video to lean more about syllables in English.

I'll begin with the basics of syllables and stress and then build on that.

A syllable is a single unit of pronunciation. It always contains a vowel sound and often

contains one or more consonant sounds. Words are made up of syllables.


English syllables can be difficult to identify from just the spelling – sometimes you may have to look up how to say them. Pronouncing words correctly begins with understanding

syllables. Let’s look at some examples, starting with the easiest – one syllable words.










Here are some English words that consist of only one vowel sound: Oh, I, A


Now, here are some one syllable words with one consonant sound: Go, Hi, Stay.


Now, some one syllable words with two consonant sounds Cake, Boat, Bring, Strength


Now, let’s start looking at polysyllabic words, first words with two syllables. When you’re practicing pronunciation it can help to practice each syllable separately, then combining them.

Try these words: Wonder, Helpful, Hotel, Decide


Now, some three syllable words: Wondering, Unhelpful, Aggregate, Decided


Four syllables: Disturbances, Aggregators, Undecided, Planetary


Five syllables: Subterranean, Momentarily, Choreographer, Appendectomy


Six syllables: Incomprehensible, Indefatigable, Disambiguation, Responsibility


Seven syllables: Anesthesiology, Compartmentalization, Microbiological, Unconventionality


Eight syllables: Heterosexuality, Incomprehensibility, Machiavellianism, Institutionalization


Almost all words longer than eight syllables are scientific or chemical names and therefore not really common words.


Let’s practice.


Count the syllables. How many syllables are in each word?


Magnificent, Incontrovertible, Special, Intelligibility.


In part 2 of this series, I will talk about syllable stress. This is absolutely KEY to getting proper English pronunciation – whether it’s American style or British style or anything else, you need to know syllable stress. So, this lesson on syllables will be the first building block to better pronunciation.


See you soon!

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