Spanish Syllables and Syllabification Rules
General Syllabification Rules
Consonant Plus Vowel
Whenever possible, you should break up words so that each syllable contains a consonant followed by a vowel. A consonant between two vowels belongs to the syllable with the second vowel. The goal is to end a syllable with a vowel whenever possible.
Check out the syllabification of these common Spanish words.
Two Consecutive Consonants
Two consecutive consonants will generally belong to separate syllables. However, if the second consonant in a consonant pair is r or l, the consonant pair is not separated into different syllables.
Check out the syllabification of these common Spanish words containing consecutive consonants.
- In Puerto Rico and most of Spain, the consonant cluster tl is divided into separate syllables. For example, the syllabification of atlánticois at-lán-ti-co.
Three Consecutive Consonants
When three consonants appear together, the first one will generally belong to a separate syllable.
Check out the syllabification of these words with three consecutive consonants.
Strong and Weak Vowels
Spanish has both strong vowels (a, e, o) and weak vowels (i, u). Here are some rules on how the combinations of these vowels are divided into syllables.
- Two weak vowels together form a diphthong and are not separated into different syllables. Example: fui
- An unaccented weak vowel followed by a strong vowel form a diphthong and are not separated into different syllables. Examples: Juan, viento
- A strong vowel followed by an unaccented weak vowel form a diphthong and are not separated into different syllables. Examples: causa, veinte
- Two strong vowels together form a hiatus and are separated into different syllables. Example: Leo
- A weak vowel and a strong vowel form a hiatus when the weak vowel is the stressed vowel and are therefore separated into different syllables. Examples: raíz, María, laúd
- Two identical vowels that appear one after the other (or separated only by the letter h) form a hiatus and are separated into different syllables. Examples: poseer, azahar