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Syllables & Stress



Syllables are small units of sound that make up words. In English, each word is stressed. This means that one of the syllables in a word is pronounced more strongly, or loudly, than the other syllables.



Happy (hap - py) There are two units of sound in this word
1: hap
2: py


Happy (HAP - py) The first syllable (HAP) is stressed. The second syllable (py) is not stressed. You say HAPpy. "HAP" is pronounced more loudly than "py."


Syllables --

  • have a vowel sound and consonant sounds.
  • depend on sound rather than spelling.


  • Each word in English has stress.
  • One syllable in each word is stressed.
  • Dictionaries show which syllable in a word is stressed. Dictionaries usually show stress with a stress mark ('): 'hap-py. The stress mark goes before the syllable that is stressed. Read the section on how to use the dictionary to learn how it shows stress.

Related Sections

-ed Spelling Rules
-ing Spelling Rules