Rules of Syllaication for Spanish

By Crystal Watson,2014-09-28 05:35
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Rules of Syllaication for Spanish

Rules of Syllabication for Spanish

    Syllables in Spanish are formed in combination of a consonant and a vowel or by a strong vowel standing alone.

Examples: di-fí-cil o-lor chi-le-na

1. V-CV (or V-CV) This means a single consonant

    sound between two vowels always starts the next


     o-so, ma-no, o-la, o-ro, re-ve-la-do

    Letter combinations ch, ll, and rr are DIGRAPHS

    or pairs of letters that represent only one sound and

    are therefore not separated: ha-cha, ca-lle, pe-rro

    (compare to English ch, ck, ph, sh, th)

    2. V-CCV The first possibility of two adjoining

    consonants between vowels or at the beginning of a

    word is a syllable-initial CLUSTER as long as they

    are one of the following 12 groups: pl, pr, bl, br,

    tr, dr, cl (/k/ in sound), cr (/kr/ in sound), gl, gr, fl,


    Note that the second consonant in these clusters is

    always /l/ or /r/ (Hint: always separate consonants

    whose second letter is not /l/ or /r/.

    pl pla-ya, a-pli-car cl cli-ma, bu-cle

    Dr. Valerio Dalbor p126-129 1

    pr pro-bar, o-pri-mir cr cre-ma, la-cre

    bl blan-co, do-ble gl glo-ria, i-gle-sia

    br bri-sa, a-bre gr gris, a-grio

    tr tres, o-tro fl flor, chi-fla-do

    dr dra-ma, la-drar fr frí-o, co-fre

    VC-CV The second possibility of two adjoining

    consonants between vowels is a sequence of two

    consonants other than those above, which must be divided, one with each syllable. Notice that s is in

    this part of the rule and not with syllable-initial clusters.

These examples are found within words.

r-l per-la r-s Pér-si-co

    b-t ob-te-ner b-y ab-yec-to

    c-c lec-ción t-b fút-bol

    n-d gran-de c-t ac-to

    s-f es-fe-ra s-c es-ca-par

    3. VC-CCV The first possibility of three adjoining

    consonants between vowels is a syllable-final

    consonant and a syllable-initial cluster, which must

    be one of the twelve in Rule 2 above. The first goes

    with the preceding vowel, the next two start the

    next syllable.

    m-br hom-bre m-bl a-sam-ble-a

    m-pr siem-pre m-pl sim-ple

    l-fr Al-fre-do l-dr sal-dra

    Dr. Valerio Dalbor p126-129 2

    n-cl an-cla n-tr en-trar

    s-pr des-pren-der s-tr as-tro

    The second possibility of three adjoining consonants between vowels is a syllable-final cluster and a single syllable-initial consonant. The second consonant in these syllable-final clusters is always /s/. The sound group /ks-/ in these cases is spelled with an x. Here

    are examples within words.

ns-p trans-por-te ns-t ins-tan-te

    x-p /ks-p/ ex-per-to x-t /ks-t/ ex-tin-guir

    rs-p pers-pi-caz ns-c trans-cur-so

    4. VCC-CCV The only possibility of four adjoining

    consonants between vowels is a syllable-final

    cluster and then a syllable-initial cluster, a

    relatively rare combination in Spanish. The second

    consonant of the first cluster is almost always /s/

    (sometimes spelled with an x and thus really /ks-/),

    and the second cluster is always one of the 12 we

    have already seen in rules 2 and : pl, pr, bl, and so


    ns-pl trans-plan-te bs-tr obs-truc-ción Dr. Valerio Dalbor p126-129 3

    5. V-V The first and by far most frequent possibility of two adjoining vowels is the hiatus situation, that is, each vowel in a separate syllable. Don’t forget that V can also stand for a stressed /í/ or /ú/ as well as any /a/, /e/, or /o/.

e-a cre-a o-e po-e-ta

    e-o cre-o o-a clo-a-ca

    a-e ca-e a-o ca-os

    e-í le-í í-e rí-e

    a-í ca-í í-a dí-a

    o-í o-ís-te í-o mí-o

    a-ú ba-úl ú-a grú-a

    e-ú re-ú-ne ú-e gra-dú-e

VV, VV, VVV The remaining vowel combinations

    consist of unstressed /i/ or /u/the semi-vowels or

    “weak” vowels—beside another vowel in the same

    syllable. If an /i/ or /u/ occurs before a /u/ or an /i/,

    respectively, the first one is always the semi-vowel.

ia viaje ai hay

    ie sie-te ei seis

    io pio-jo oi boi-na

    ua sua-ve au cau-sa

    ue bue-no eu deu-da

    uo cuo-ta ou (no common examples)

    iu viu-da ui rui-do

    iei es-tu-diéis uei graduéis

    uai con-ti-nuáis uau guau-guau

    Dr. Valerio Dalbor p126-129 4

Listen to your instructor saying the following words

    or phrases. Divide them into syllables…

    gente arreglaron

    ostra oclusivo

    insiste alegría

    arte otorrinolaringología Atlántico subdirector

    argumento extraterritorial construcción reúnen

    obstáculo murciélago

Dr. Valerio Dalbor p126-129 5

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