Welcome to the second lesson on how to divide Spanish words into syllables. The five definitions that form the basis for the proper division of syllables appear in lesson one. Knowing how words are divided will help you apply the accent rules and improve your pronunciation.
The formation of syllables in Spanish is based on a number of situations. For the most part, these situations apply to both written and spoken Spanish.
1. SINGLE CONSONANT BETWEEN VOWELS: When a single consonant appears between two vowels, the syllable begins with the consonant and includes the vowel that follows it.
ti-na, ga-ve-ta, pá-gi-na, mo-zo, co-me-ta, bo-ca
2. TWO CONSONANTS BETWEEN VOWELS: When two consonants appear between two vowels, the syllable begins with the combined consonants, if the consonant combination is one of the following: bl, br, cl, cr, dr, fl, fr, gl, gr, pl, pr, tr. Any other combination of two consonants between vowels must be divided.
Examples of consonant split for bl, br, cl, cr, dr, fl, fr, gl, gr, pl, pr, tr:
vi-brar, a-gra-va-do, e-vi-ta-ble, la-dra, de-le-tre-a
Examples of consonant split for other two-consonant combinations:
cul-tura, cor-ba-ta, so-lem-ne, en-ar-de-ce
3. THREE CONSONANTS BETWEEN VOWELS: When three consonants appear between two vowels, the consonants are always divided. If the second two consonants are from the group mentioned in #2 above (bl, br, cl, cr, dr, fl, fr, gl, gr, pl, pr, tr), then they stay together and separate from the first one.
miem-bro, en-gran-de-cer, im-an-tar, en-tre-ga
If one of the pairs mentioned (bl, br, cl, cr, dr, fl, fr, gl, gr, pl, pr, tr) does not appear in the group of three, then the first two consonants go with the preceding vowel and the third one is separated with the following vowel.
4. FOUR CONSONANTS BETWEEN VOWELS: When four consonants appear, they always divide in the middle.
5. TWO VOWELS TOGETHER: When two vowels occur together they remain together if they form a dipthong (with one of them being an unstressed “i” or “u”).
dio, vio, cui-da-do, sies-ta, cria-dor
When neither of the vowels is an unstressed “i” or “u,” they are divided.
le-er, cre-ar, le-al, pa-la-bre-o, ca-er
6. FIVE OTHER SOUNDS: The following sounds begin separate syllables: ch, ll, rr, gu, and qu (before an unstressed “i” or “u”).
en-gan-char, e-na-guar, qui-lo, i-rri-so-rio, chi-llar
7. TWO CONSONANTS TOGETHER: With the exception of “rr” and “ll,” two consonants that occur together are usually divided.
Exceptions to these situations exist, but this explanation will give you enough information, when combined with the Spanish accent rules, to write correctly most Spanish words you hear.