Anonymous:
I'd like to ask native speakers it there are clear rules to divide an English words into syllables. Do you automatically know how to do it or do you use a dictionary every time you have to?

Thanks a lot!
It's easy, count the number of vowels in a word (but pronunciation is what counts, not writing!) and that's the number of its syllables.
Full Member163
Hi,

Simply counting vowels won't work eg a word like 'receive', which has 4 vowels but only two syllables. As noted above, it's based on the sound.

Clive
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Anonymous:
I probably wasn't clear on that. What I meant to ask is how do you know how to divide a word into syllables if you're writing it down? For example in Italian, my language, if you're writing a word and you need to break it, there are very clear rules about it, so you don't usually have doubts. For example, the word "separare" (= to separate) is divided as se-pa-ra-re, with the sequence CV-CV-CV-CV (consonant/vowel). The same word is English is divided as sep-ar-ate, according to the dictionary, so I figure the rule is CVC-VC-VCV. However, the word "television", which has a similar consonant/vowel sequence, is divided as tele-vi-sion, that is CVCV-CV-CVVC. So how can you tell? Are there rules or do you as native speakers instinctively know? Do you need to check it in the dictionary every time?

Thanks a lot.

Stefania
Hi,

You are taking the wrong approach in counting consonants and vowels. eg phone and fox both have one syllable, despite the double consonants 'ph'. Consider the sound, not the letters.

the word "television", which has a similar consonant/vowel sequence, is divided as tele-vi-sion, that is CVCV-CV-CVVC. No, it's te/le/vis/ion, 4 syllables.

So how can you tell? Are there rules or do you as native speakers instinctively know? We'd just say it aloud.

Do you need to check it in the dictionary every time? No, never. Not unless the dictionary gives the pronunciation.

Best wishes, Clive
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As the posts above state, it depends on the vowel sounds, not how the vowels are spelled. Unlike Italian, not all the letters are pronounced as they are written.

Our syllable clusters are built around each vowel sound, but the C/V combinations for a syllable can vary (V, VC, CV, CVC, CCVC etc). We don't look up syllables in a dictionary - we can hear them. Instinct? Probably just familiarity.

When you break down separate as it is pronounced [sep ə reɪt] (not as it is spelled), its structure is CVC V CVC

To me, television [te lə ʃən] could only be four syllables, not three, and the breakdown would be CV CV CV CVC.
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I'd like to ask native speakers [ if ] there are clear rules to divide an English words into syllables. Do you automatically know how to do it or do you use a dictionary every time you have to?
I notice that your question is not: How do you determine how many syllables are in an English word? In case it was, that answer has been given above!

I would answer your question by saying that there are rules, but, in my opinion, not clear rules. I think the rules are rather complex, and I've never quite mastered them myself! If I need to know how to divide a word into syllables, I always look it up in a dictionary because I never trust myself to get it right!

I do know that the syllable division is usually between two successive consonants in words like at-las and ap-ti-tude. However, combinations of a plosive and liquid (pr, pl, tr, cr, cl, br, bl, dr, gr, gl) or the same with initial s (spr, str, scr) are not usually separated: a-pron, a-tro-phy, He-brew, a-gree, etc.

Fortunately, it turns out that for most tasks involving the use of English the knowledge of syllabification is not really necessary.

CJ
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Anonymous:
There are rules to divide english words. Here is a link to help you:www.ehow.com/how_2337722_divide-english-words-syllables.html
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