I'm trying to improve my spelling, and I came across this article, which states that "Every syllable has one vowel'. How can this be true while words like room, pain, eat, grow, etc. Have one syllable and two vowels?

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    I think that what is meant is that every syllable has at least one vowel. Commented Jul 24, 2020 at 20:38
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    Your source appears to be constructing simple rules for English learners. But much depends on the definitions concerned and there are clearly exceptions to the rule, such as diphthongs: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diphthong Commented Jul 24, 2020 at 22:27
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    The so-called rules on the site you cite are gross oversimplifications, the kind given to young children because they are unlikely to encounter exceptions (ahem, cwm, tsk, celt, gestalt, qi, pel, beatnik, k.d. lang), though some are demonstrably incorrect even to someone with a limited vocabulary (3. girl; 7. coke). It's more useful to say a syllable has one vowel sound, but that informs no one of anything about how it should be spelled.
    – choster
    Commented Jul 24, 2020 at 23:51
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    That is not true at all. We don't count syllables from spelling. It's not necessary for a syllable to have a vowel. For example, in words like 'rythm' ['ɹɪðm̩], we have two syllables but we have only one vowel. Why's that? It's because we have syllabic consonants (vowel-like consonants such as m, n and l), which form a syllable on their own.
    – Void
    Commented Jul 25, 2020 at 5:01
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    I suggest you stop using that site. Because it's not accurate and reliable. That site also writes /j/ for /d͡ʒ/. /j/ is a completely different phoneme. Furthermore, they don't mention any exceptions to the rules they've given and there are lots and lots of exceptions to those general guidelines.
    – Void
    Commented Jul 25, 2020 at 5:07

2 Answers 2


Every syllable has one vowel

This is an overgeneralization and is misleading. This may be true in some languages, but not in English.

In English, a syllable can be composed of a diphtong, which is a unit that is a combination two vowels. A long vowel may also be considered as a instance of two vowels.

An English syllable also doesn't always have a vowel since liquids and nasals can be a syllable peak. See link.


The link is for children learning to write at age 4. (or rather for their parents and teachers). It isn't really directed at non-native learners.

Children are taught to break a word into syllables and sound out each syllable in order to attempt to spell the word. Syllables in English can be a single vowel or dipthong. "V" or combined with consonants "CV" or "CVC" The "V" may be a single vowel, like /a/ or /i:/ (spelled "ee" or "ea" for example") or a dipthong like /ai/ or /ei/, which might be spelled "i" or "a". However a syllable can't contain two vowel/diphongs separated by a consonant. "VCV" must be two syllables. And single consonants are not (normally) sylablles. Also the consonant might be a digraph ("th", "sh") or a blend ("st", or "bl").

If you look hard, you will find exceptions to these, but this is good enough for a five year old!

So to spell an unknown word, the child is encouraged to break it down and spell out each syllable phonetically. "computer" could become "kom" "pyoo" "ta" and then spell each one: "kompyoota" That is a good first attempt.

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