Syllables (for grammar)

Firstly, we will ask the question.  “What are syllables?”  This is the first step in studying how they work, and how we use them in English.

The answer is:  ‘A syllable a distinctive pronunciation sound in a word’

“What does this mean?” you ask.

It means, when we say a word, we have sounds which form as we say the word. Each sound is a syllable.


Big, fat, bat, pig, dog, what..,    all have only 1 sound. Practice saying these words. How many sounds do you make?  There should be only I sound.    Confused?

Let’s look closely at some of the words.    Big has one sound    big – not   Bi – guh  (the guh is not strong. It is pronounced softly so it is not part of the main sound).

Click on the link to listen to, and practice pronunciation: Syllables in pronunciation (thanks to ‘how many syllables’ inc)

There is only ‘1’ stress of pronunciation in the word.  BI(g). FA(t)  BA(t) PI(g)   DO(g)  WHA(t)

All of these words are :  1 syllable words =  they have 1 syllable(stressed pronunciation sound). The sound in the brackets ( ) is a soft sound and is not classed as a pronunciation sound.

2 syllable words.   This is where the rules of grammar are needed. When using certain 2 syllable words, you need to recognize that they are 2 syllables in order for you to apply the rules.

Examples:  Boring, handsome, underMonday,  table,  office.  All of these words are '2 syllable words' due to the 2 distinct sounds being made.

3+ syllable words.  This is the other element where you need to apply the rules.

Examples:  dangerous, diplomat, government, assistantfrightening.  All of these words are '3+ syllable words'  due to the 3 distinct sounds made.

Words can have up to 14 syllables (but we do not use words with more than 5 -6 in daily life).

I will show you a few examples of 6 syllable words, which are used in everyday life.

Responsibility   Re-spon-si-bi-li-ty     

Availability  A-vai-la-bi-li-ty 

Identification   I-den-ti-fi-ca-tion

We use syllables to stress and pronounce words correctly in most languages.

In English, we also create grammar rules based on syllables.

This will be covered in more depth in later courses,  where I will cover the use of syllables in grammar, with reference to adjectives (the most commonly used aspect).

Here are some exercises for you to do to recognize and practice the pronunciation sounds of 2 and 3 syllable words.

Exercise 1.

Syllable divider 1

Syllable divider 2

Divided syllables 3

Exercise 1

1.C  2.B  3.C  4.B  5.A  6.A  7.B  8.C  9.C  10.A

Exercise 2

1.D  2.A  3.D  4.A  5.A  6.C  7.A  8.C  9.D  10.B

Exercise 3

1.A  2.C  3.A  4.D  5.C  6.C  7.D  8.A  9.D  10.C

This is the end of the lesson.

Please remember!  This is one of the things that many students do not focus on, and this means that a lot of their pronunciation is incorrect. If you want to speak English well then you have to pronounce correctly.

Thank you.