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Counting & Segmenting Syllables

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Basics on the topic Counting & Segmenting Syllables

Segmenting – Counting Syllables

Do you notice how some words are long and some words are short? Why do you think that is? The answer is syllables. Syllables are the segments or parts which you can divide a word into. In this introductory phonics text, you can learn about counting syllables and syllable segmenting.

How to Count Syllables

Let’s learn more about segmenting syllables and counting syllables in words with the following explanation.

All words are made up of one or more syllables. Syllables always have one vowel sound. The number of vowels usually tells you how many syllables the word is made up of. Consonants usually appear in front or after the vowel.

Let’s have a look at the word donut as an example:


The word donut has two vowels (o in do and u in nut). So the word donut has two syllables.

Syllable Segmenting – Example

Words can have a different number of syllables depending on their length. To learn words, we can pull them apart into their syllables: ‘do’ and ‘nut’ make donut! This is called segmenting.

To segment a word, it helps to clap it out as you say it aloud. ‘Do’ gets one clap and ‘nut’ get another clap. Count the number of claps you make to see how many syllables the word has! Donut has two claps, so it has two syllables.


Let's try it with a longer word like volcano. First, say the word aloud: volcano!


Then, say it aloud again but clap along this time with each puff of air. Vol gets one clap. -ca gets one clap, and -no gets one last clap.


We clapped three times, so vol-ca-no has three syllables!


Why is counting syllables important? Counting syllables is important because it helps us learn to read, write and spell words. If you can segment syllables and count them, you can figure out how to say them aloud or write them down.

Segmenting and Counting Syllables – Summary of Steps

Words are made of parts called syllables. Syllables have one vowel sound and take one puff of air. To learn words, we can pull them apart into their syllables which is called segmenting. Syllables must always at least consist of a vowel (a, e, i, o & u).

To segment a word follow these steps to find the number of syllables:

Step # What to do
1 Say the word aloud.
2 Say it aloud clapping along
with each puff of air.
3 Count the number of claps you
make to see how many syllables the word has.

Have you practiced with a counting syllables worksheet yet? On this website, you can also find interactive exercises, worksheets and more activities to train counting syllables and segmenting words into syllables.

Counting & Segmenting Syllables exercise

Would you like to apply the knowledge you’ve learnt? You can review and practice it with the tasks for the video Counting & Segmenting Syllables.
  • Complete the sentence.


    Remember, segmenting is when we pull words apart into syllables.


    The correct word is syllables!

    Words are made of parts called syllables.

  • Segment the word.


    Move each syllable to where you can hear it.

    Which sound comes first?


    The syllables we hear are bas and ket. Together, the word is basket. It is a two-syllable word.

  • Match the words to the number of syllables.


    Remember, to find the number of syllables, we clap the word as we say it. The number of claps tells us how many syllables the word has.

    Look at the word, caterpillar. Say it out loud. Now, clap it as you say it: cat er pill ar. There are 4 claps. The word caterpillar has 4 syllables.


    We say the word out loud, and then clap the parts to find how many syllables it has.

    • The word log has one syllable: log
    • The word picnic has two syllables: pic nic
    • The word butterfly has three syllables: but ter fly
    • The word avocado has four syllables: a vo ca do.

  • Choose the correct image.


    Clap the word out loud to find how many syllables it has.

    Say the word out loud, then clap it to segment it. Which sounds do you hear first? Which are in the middle? Which are at the end?


    The word dinosaur has 3 syllables.

  • Select the correct word.


    Remember, a one-syllable word can be said with one puff of air.

    When we say the word out loud, then clap it, it will have one clap to show one syllable.


    The word car has one syllable, it can be said in one puff of air, and has one clap.

  • How many syllables?


    Remember, say each word aloud first. Then, clap the word as you say it to find the number of syllables.

    An example of a one-syllable word is hat.

    An example of a two-syllable word is paper.

    And example of a three-syllable word is fantastic.


    By saying the word out loud, then clapping it as we say it, we can determine the number of syllables.