This is the first of two lessons on how to divide Spanish words into syllables. Knowing how the words are divided will help you apply the accent rules and improve your pronunciation.
We shall begin with five definitions:
1. OPEN SYLLABLE – This is a syllable that ends in a vowel. The letter “y” can be considered a vowel when it occurs as an “i” sound at the end of a word.
Examples: sa-no, na-ta, hoy, ma-ña-na, co-mo, pa-ra, sa-la-do
2. CLOSED SYLLABLE – This is a syllable that ends in one or two consonants, with the exception of the letter “y.”
Examples: trans-por-tan, des-can-san, juz-gan
3. DIPHTHONG – This happens when two vowels occur side by side, one of which must be an unstressed “i” or “u”, and are fused into one syllable.
Examples: cui-da-do, hue-co, pia-no, a-li-vio, a-pio, mue-ca
4. TRIPHTHONG – This occurs when three vowels fuse into a single syllable. The first and third vowels must be an unstressed “i” or “u.”
Examples: Pa-ra-guay, cam-biéis, a-cen-tuáis, lim-piáis
5. SEMI-VOWEL – This is an unstressed “i” or “u” that fuses with any vowel other than itself to make a diphthong or triphthong.
Examples: mie-do, tiem-bla, cue-llo, cui-do, diur-no
In Lesson Two, we shall take a closer look at the way words are divided in Spanish. The definitions in Lesson One will help you understand the application of the rules in Lesson Two.