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Syllables are ways to split words into speech sounds. We naturally say words using syllables, but we don’t usually think about it until we need to separate the syllables for reading or spelling purposes. If you feel you need more information on what syllables are or how to use them, online practice is a good place to start. So, why do we need syllables?

When we learn to read, and as we encounter more difficult words, we may need to decode a word. You’ll often hear someone telling a reader to “sound it out” or “break the word into parts.” When we do this, breaking the word into syllables can help us read the word. Here are a few examples:

word- one syllable, word

spelling- two syllables, spell/ing

computer- three syllables, com/pu/ter

Breaking a word into syllables can also help when we learn to spell new words. There are many spelling rules that apply to how a word is broken apart. For example, if a syllable ends with a vowel, the vowel sound is usually long.

tiger- two syllables, ti/ger

The i in tiger is a long i, making the sound “i.” If the word had been broken up like this, tig/er, we would pronounce the i as a short i, as in the word igloo and the beginning of the word would be “tig.”

Learning syllables takes some practice. Try online games, searching for something like elementary syllables practice, to find fun activities. Children are often taught to listen to a word and clap every time they hear a syllable. This is another activity you can try at home.