Syllable Rules 4-5

That’s why we’re here to help in the second episode, which covers rules four and five.


by Brendan Bense

April 13, 2019

Welcome to our second post on syllable rules, where FactSumo breaks down each and every rule for, well, breaking down syllables! Syllables are easy to sound out loud, but a little more difficult to write. That’s why we’re here to help in the second episode, which covers rules four and five. Today is all about vowel teams, and how the create brand new sounds. These mini-posts go into a bit of detail concerning the rules, so there’s no confusion for you or your students!

Ready to dive in? Us too!


We’ll start our second episode with vowel teams. Vowel teams are just two vowels that decide to pair up to make a completely new sound. While there are only five vowels in English, they make up 18 different sounds! Here is a short list of common vowel teams: ai, ea, oa, oe, ee, ue, oo. The basic rule is to never split vowel teams up, as they count as one vowel sound. Remember, every syllable in English has at least one vowel, and one vowel sound makes up a syllable. In this instance, we’re introducing words that have two vowels, with one sound! It’s getting a bit trickier, but we can walk you through some examples to make it easier for you.

Our first example is an easy one: painting. First off, how many syllables are in this word? Two! There are two vowel sounds: ai and i; can you spot them in the word? Next, because of rule four, we can’t divide ai apart because they form a vowel team. So, we’ll divide right before the suffix (which we will explain in rule six). So, we’re left with paint-ing!

The next example is a bit tougher, but you’ll get it with no problems! Trouble has two syllables. We can’t divide ou because it is a vowel team. We also can’t divide bl because it is a digraph. So, we’ll divide right after ou. Therefore, we’re left with trou-ble!


There are fewer examples of vowel teams out there, and they often appear in the form of compound words (which we will discuss in another episode) or prefixes and suffixes (which is the topic of rule six)! Just because two vowels are next to each other, does NOT mean they are a vowel team. Remember, vowel teams specifically make one sound. So if you find yourself sounding out more than a single sound, it’s probably not a vowel team.

Here’s a word you may not be familiar with, but serves as a great example: scion, which means descendant. We know scion has two syllables, but where does the divide go? If you sound it out, you’ll notice you’re making two sounds for io. Even though these vowels are next to each other, they are NOT a team. So, we’ll split them up! Thus, our syllables look like this: sci-on! This also works for the word sci-ence.

Rules four and five are a bit more difficult than the first three, but we know you can handle them! Now that we have finished this mini lesson, we’re heading to rules six and seven. These rules mostly deal with prefixes, suffixes, and compound words, which we will discuss in depth next episode. If you don’t think you’re ready for the third episode in our series, don’t sweat it! FactSumo is all about confidence through practice. If you feel stuck, reread through the rules, and try your hand at our awesome decks. Otherwise, you can head over to our third episode. Can’t wait to see you there!