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3.1  Syllables: The Two Rules

Hebrew Syllables -

The Two Rules for Syllabification

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In order to properly pronounce a Hebrew word, you will need to understand how the word is divided into syllables (i.e., units of distinct sound). There are two basic rules for dividing a Hebrew word into syllables, as explained below.

Rule 1: # Syllables = # Vowels

A syllable always begins with a consonant (except when a word begins with Vav, which is a form of conjunction) and may end with either a consonant or another vowel. Since there is one vowel per syllable, the number of syllables in a word is the same as the number of vowels.

We will indicate word division by drawing a line between the syllables and then placing the numbers (1), (2), and so on, directly below (or sometimes above) each consecutive syllable:

Counting Syllables

Rule 2:  Syllables can be "Open" or "Closed"

Open syllables end with a vowel sound and closed syllables end with a letter without a vowel:

Open Syllable

Open Syllable

Closed Syllable

Closed Syllable

We will indicate open syllables with (O) and a closed syllable with (C):

Open and Closed Syllables

General Rule: Vowels are normally long in open syllables (i.e., ba, be, bo) and short in a closed syllables (ab, eb, ob).

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