What is a syllable?
A syllable is a single segment of unbroken sound that has one vowel sound, a diphthong or a syllabic consonant. It may or may not be surrounded by consonants.
Examples of syllables
bread → bread (1 syllable)
table → ta-ble (2 syllables)
bicycle* → bi-cy-cle (3 syllables)
interesting → in-ter-est-ing (4 syllables)
* Note the consonant “y” is not strictly a vowel but behaves like one.
Seven rules to divide words into syllables
Rule # 1
A syllable is formed by at least one vowel (a, e, i, o, u).
For example: a, the, plant, ba-na-na, chil-dren, cam-er-a.
a) Silent e is not counted as a vowel in a syllable.
For example: tape, like, love, ex-treme, take.
b) When two vowels carry one sound (diphthong), they cannot be divided.
For example: coin, loud, blue, bread, moon, a-void.
c) The letter “y” is not strictly a vowel but behaves like one.
For example: man-y, bi-cy-cle,
Rule # 2
Divide the syllable between two same consonants.
For example: rab-bit, let-ter, buf-fet, des-sert, ber-ry.
Rule # 3
If the consonants are different:
a) They go with the second vowel if the first vowel has a short sound.
For example: be-tween.
b) They are divided if the first one has a long sound.
For example: per-son.
Never split two consonants that make only one sound when pronounced together and aren't the same letter (diagraphs). The exceptions are: ch, sh, ph, th, wh & gh.
For example: teach-er, sheep, graph-ic, wi-thout, what, laugh.
Divide before or after a single middle consonant.
a) If the vowel has a long sound.
For example: wa-ter, ba-by, ba-na-na.
b) If the vowel has a short sound.
For example: riv-er, pan-el.
Rule # 5
Use prefixes and suffixes to separate syllables.
For example: re-turn, un-usual, pre-paid, end-less, pay-ing, hap-pi-ness.
Rule # 6
Compound nouns are always divided between the two words.
For example: some-thing, how-ever, baby-sitter, class-room, break-fast, sun-flow-er.
Rule # 7
Divide before the consonant before an "-le" syllable and sounds like “-el”.
For example: a-ble, fum-ble, ap-ple, ta-ble, cas-tle.
Words which end with “ckle”.
For example: tick-le, tack-le.