Spanish syllables
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Overview

Knowing how to separate a word into syllables is important for knowing how the letters combine together for correct pronunciation as well as when a word may need an orthographic accent or not. 

General Syllabification Rules

As often as possible, create each syllable with a consonant followed by a vowel.

  • sá’-ba-na
  • ga’-to
  • ca’-sa

Only one strong vowel (a, e, o, í, ú) per syllable. These can be combined with a weak vowel (i, u) to create a diphthong. Two weak vowels always form a diphthong. Two strong vowels are always separated.

  • to-a’-lla
  • fe’-o
  • i-gua’-na
  • rei’-na
  • tí’-o
  • ciu-dad’
  • cre-er’

A consonant between two vowels belongs to the syllable with the second vowel. The goal is to end each syllable with a vowel.

  • ma’-no
  • o’-ro
  • me’-sa

Two consecutive consonants will generally belong to separate syllables.

  • cuan’-do
  • al-can-zar’
  • cos’-ta

The letter x is treated as two consecutive consonants, ks

  • éxito - ek’-si-to

Certain consonant groups are not divided: bl, br, ch, cl, cr, dr, fl, fr, gl, gr, ll, pl, pr, qu, rr, tr. The general rule is that if two consonants can start a word, then they remain in the same syllable if they fall in the middle of a word.

  • som-bri’-llo
  • cla’-ve
  • tra-ba’-jo
  • a-pli-car’
  • fre-quen’-te
  • he’-cho
  • a-ma-ri’-llo
  • ca’-rro
  • in-ter-re-la’-cio-na-do
  • en-lo-que-cer
  • me-ren’-gue
  • tra-ba-jo

Consonant Exceptions: words with prefixes. The prefix will be its own syllable.

  • at-lán’-ti-co
  • sub-li-mi-nal’
  • des-or-den

Consonant Exceptions: the rr is split if it is clear from its etymology

  • inter-re-la-cio-na’-do

When three consonants appear together, the first one will generally belong to a separate syllable. (Notice that the consonants in the second syllable are consonant units mentioned above.)

  • in-gles’
  • com-pre-sar’
  • pan-fle’-to
  • om-bli’-go
  • con-stan’-te

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Category: pronunciation | Keywords:

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