7 Syllable Types

Beyond letter recognition, sound association, isolating and blending, teaching children how to read our complex English language can be a daunting task.  Where does one even begin to teach children the rules and regulations that are associated with reading?


For instance, while teaching reading throughout my career, many times I have found myself wondering or outwardly saying to my students, “I don’t know why they used a ‘ph’ in that word instead of an ‘f’,” or, “I realize those letters are ‘augh’ but they actually make the short ‘o’ sound together like in the word ‘taught’ but they say the short ‘a’ and ‘f’ sound like in the word ‘laugh.”  Phew!  This kind of confusion applies to many words in our language.


Understanding and familiarizing yourself with the 7 syllable types can greatly ease the teaching process.  Once your child, or student, is familiar with them, they can be referenced at any time when attempting to decode words.


Picture this syllable type as a door that is shut.  It is a syllable in which a vowel is followed by a consonant.  In that case, the vowel usually makes the short sound.


hat       kit/ten           rab/bit

mug          up                nap/kin

muf/fin     in/sect             sat




This syllable type can be thought of as a door that is open.  Any syllable that ends in a vowel, the vowel is almost always long.

he               ti/ger                fo/cus

go              ba/by                 ro/bot

spi/der      pa/per                se/ven



Mama E


Essentially, this is a syllable that has a long vowel, followed by a consonant, and then a silent e.  This is a fun one because it requires me to do a little role playing.  To explain the concept to children, I talk in a little old lady voice, wave my finger at them as if I were the “mama E” at the end of the word and the vowel was my child.  I say in my old voice, “vowel, you say your name!”  And then I tell them that is Mama E’s only job…she makes the vowel say their name (or make their long sound) and then she is quiet after they listen to her.


cake          pine            shake

name        bone           tote

poke         home            flute


Vowel Team


I remember when I was learning how to read, I was taught, “two vowels go walking, the first one does that talking.”  That is the idea behind the Vowel Team, though that rule doesn’t apply to every situation. Really, the rule is that a syllable that has 2 vowels next to each other make one sound when combined.


team         pie            tray

street       float          goo/gle

boat         seed           boy/ish


R-Controlled Vowel  


A syllable in which a vowel that is in front of a single “r” is then “controlled” by that r.

(ar, er, ir, or, ur)


stir        bird            yard

burn      purse         fern

car         star             fort





This is a syllable where, when two vowels are combined, form a new vowel sound.

(oi, oy, oo, oo, ou, ow, au, aw, ew)


boil         pool        claw

cloud      toy          audio

book      cow           chew


Consonant -le


An “le” appears at the end of a word with a consonant.


bub/ble          sta/ple        hum/ble

cas/tle            jun/gle        tram/ple

cir/cle             han/dle        jug/gle


Building a strong foundation in reading is key to developing fluency.  In addition to learning the 7 syllable types, reading with an adult daily for at least 10-15 minutes is greatly beneficial and will transfer across all subject areas.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go!”  -Dr. Seuss


Blog written by Lauren Bronson from Tampa Learning Co. 

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