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Old 02-26-2010, 05:48 AM
anna9868 anna9868 is offline
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 632
preK-5 sub teacher/preK-12 sub aide
Breaking up words into syllables. PLEASE explain!

Can anyone give me a good resource (preferably for teachers) of how to break up words into syllables in English? I keep having slip-offs with that topic when I help out my son with his spelling.

When I asked his 2nd grade teacher she told me they use these rules:
Divide the compound word between words: rain-bow
Divide a word between double consonants: dip-ping, run-ning
Divide a word between the base word and its ending: writ-ing, beard-ed

Well, that doesn't help us with a word like ANOTHER (in his last homework). BTW, how many syllables are in this word? My paper dictionary tells me 2: an*other, and on the internet I find 3: an*oth*er

Thanks, Anna
PS: I grew up in Russia learning the rules of dividing that language, but the rules seems to be different in 2 languages
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Old 02-26-2010, 07:10 AM
beccmo's Avatar
beccmo beccmo is offline
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When I was in elementary school, we were taught to clap out the word as we say it (pronouncing it properly). Every clap was a syllable, so we could separate the word that way. So the word "another" has 3 syllables.
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Old 02-26-2010, 07:20 AM
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czacza czacza is online now
Join Date: Sep 2001
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New Jersey
Grade 3
another has 3 syllables.

From multiple sources:
1. To find the number of syllables:
---count the vowels in the word,
---subtract any silent vowels, (like the silent "e" at the end of a word or the second vowel when two vowels a together in a syllable)
---subtract one vowel from every dipthong, (diphthongs only count as one vowel sound.)
---the number of vowels sounds left is the same as the number of syllables.
The number of syllables that you hear when you pronounce a word is the same as the number of vowels sounds heard. For example:
The word "came" has 2 vowels, but the "e" is silent, leaving one vowel sound and one syllable.
The word "outside" has 4 vowels, but the "e" is silent and the "ou" is a diphthong which counts as only one sound, so this word has only two vowels sounds and therefore, two syllables.

2. Divide between two middle consonants.
Split up words that have two middle consonants. For example:
hap/pen, bas/ket, let/ter, sup/per, din/ner, and Den/nis. The only exceptions are the consonant digraphs. Never split up consonant digraphs as they really represent only one sound. The exceptions are "th", "sh", "ph", "th", "ch", and "wh".

3. Usually divide before a single middle consonant.
When there is only one syllable, you usually divide in front of it, as in:
"o/pen", "i/tem", "e/vil", and "re/port". The only exceptions are those times when the first syllable has an obvious short sound, as in "cab/in".

4. Divide before the consonant before an "-le" syllable.
When you have a word that has the old-style spelling in which the "-le" sounds like "-el", divide before the consonant before the "-le". For example: "a/ble", "fum/ble", "rub/ble" "mum/ble" and "thi/stle". The only exception to this are "ckle" words like "tick/le".

5. Divide off any compound words, prefixes, suffixes and roots which have vowel sounds.
Split off the parts of compound words like "sports/car" and "house/boat". Divide off prefixes such at "un/happy", "pre/paid", or "re/write". Also divide off suffixes as in the words "farm/er", "teach/er", "hope/less" and "care/ful". In the word "stop/ping", the suffix is actually "-ping" because this word follows the rule that when you add "-ing" to a word with one syllable, you double the last consonant and add the "-ing".
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Old 02-26-2010, 01:30 PM
Upsadaisy Upsadaisy is offline
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A shortcut way is to place your hand under your chin as you pronounce a word. Every time your chin drops, that is another syllble. Also, every syllable must have a vowel, or vowel sound.
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Old 02-26-2010, 02:05 PM
TeacherShelly TeacherShelly is offline
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California, USA
2nd & 3rd Grade Multiage
Side question: what value is there in knowing how to syllabicate words?
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Old 02-26-2010, 02:33 PM
Upsadaisy Upsadaisy is offline
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To make it easier to break down spellings into common patterns within syllables.
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Old 02-26-2010, 02:52 PM
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beccmo beccmo is offline
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Originally Posted by TeacherShelly View Post
Side question: what value is there in knowing how to syllabicate words?
Well, you can break words down into smaller parts. Many science terms are long and complex, but have common stems. If you can break them down, and you understand stem meanings, you can understand the meanings of longer words.
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Old 02-26-2010, 04:08 PM
teach24iam teach24iam is offline
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 254
Kindergarten Teacher

One of the valuable reasons for me as a Kindergarten teacher to do syllables is to get the children to start using inventive spelling. When they break it into syllables they can write what they hear and start spelling words phonetically.
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Old 02-26-2010, 05:29 PM
TeacherGroupie TeacherGroupie is offline
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 26,486
Another benefit of being able to syllabify words is for dividing a word between lines. If the word is, for example, floccinaucinihilipilification (and, yes, that's a made-up word, but it's not one *I* made up), and it won't fit on the line, you're faced with a nasty-looking gap in the line:
... Dictionaries serve up a number of peculiar words,
according to TeacherGroupie, who cites among her favorites
the unlikely-looking British nonce word
floccinaucinihilipilification. This word was invented in the
nineteenth century by some bored schoolboys.
Worse, if the text is justified margin to margin as in newspaper text, you may end up with ickily spread-out words and/or letters - I can't seem to get the A to Z word processor quite to duplicate the result, since it invariably reduces two or more spaces to one, without a bit of fiddling that will show up if anyone quotes my text in a reply, but this gives the general flavor:

The Oxford English Dictionary, first edition, reports
that nnnnnnn this nnnnnnn ungainly nnnnnnnn word
f l o c c i n a u c i n i h i l i p i l i f i .c .a .t .i .o .n
was invented from four Latin adverbs.

Breaking the word into syllables produces a much more attractive result:
The adverbs of which the word floccinaucinihilipilifi-
cation consists are flocci, nauci, nihili, and pili.
The word another certainly has three syllables, so it COULD be rendered in print as
with the break before the last syllable, but it's easier to read with the break after the first syllable
- that is, between the morphemes an and other.

I will gently suggest that the suffix in stopping remains -ing, not -ping: the suffix is part of morphology rather than of syllabication as such, or we would have to speak of the -s in cats as needing to be a separate syllable as well as a distinct morpheme. What's more, the fact that we use a <p> in stopping is dictated by the root, not by the suffix.
Education isn't what you know. It's what you can do (and fake, intelligently) with what you know.
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Old 02-26-2010, 05:53 PM
Arbie Arbie is offline
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Posts: 10
You need to know how to break words into syllables so that when you are writing or typing and you can't get the whole word on the line, you break it into syllables.
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