Six syllable types

Reading Tutorial

Six syllable types


English words can generally be divided into six syllable types. Teaching children the six syllable types can be a powerful tool to help them tackle new, longer words with confidence. A syllable is a speech utterance characterized by one vowel sound.

Below are the six syllable types with a brief description and examples.

1. Closed syllables (VC) – In a closed syllable, the vowel (V) is followed or closed in by a consonant (C). Another way of denoting closed syllables is (VC). A vowel in a closed syllable is short, as in apple a, elephant e, igloo i, octopus o, and umbrella u. Examples of closed syllables: cat, sing, rock, mull

2. Open syllables (V) – An open syllable ends in a vowel. A vowel in a closed syllable is long. A long vowel says its name, as in a, e, i, o, u. Examples: I, he, go.

3. Vowel Consonant e syllables (VCe) – In a VCe syllable, the vowel is followed by a consonant, then e. The vowel is made long by the addition of the “magic e” or “silent e,” as in cake a, athlete e, five i, rope o, cube u. Examples of VCe words: made, Pete, time.

4. Final Stable Syllable (Cle) – The final stable syllable is always the final syllable of the base word and is unaccented. The vowel is obscured. Examples: bubble, candle, waffle, angle, uncle, people.

5. R-controlled syllables (Vr) – The vowel is followed by bossy r, which may change the pronunciation of the vowel depending on their position in the word. Examples: (ar): star, dollar; (or): fork, world, doctor.

6. Vowel teams (VV) – Some vowel sounds are written with two vowels. The spelling of the vowel team may be affected by the sound position in the word. Vowel teams are the most complicated syllable pattern to learn. Examples: snail, tray; soil, soy; boot; boat.

Sample Problem

Sort the following words into syllable types. Some words may belong in more than one category.

1. toy
2. stop
3. table
4. beach
5. car
6. flow
7. simple
8. strong
9. quote
10. delete
11. basic
12. silent


1. Closed (VC): stop, simple, strong, basic, silent
2. Open (V): table, basic, silent
3. Vowel Consonant e (VCe): quote, delete
4. Final Stable Syllable (Cle): table, simple
5. R-controlled (Vr): car
6. Vowel team (VV): toy, beach, flow

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