What are syllables?

Have you ever heard someone clap or tap their fingers while saying a word? They might be trying to count the syllables! But what exactly is a syllable?

A syllable is a part of a word that contains a sound, or a beat, when spoken. You can think of syllables like beats in music. When you clap your hands, that's one beat. When you say a word, you might hear more than one beat. Those beats are syllables.

Let's try an example. The word "cat" has one syllable. When you say "cat," you only hear one beat. But the word "dog" has one syllable too! So what makes these words different?

The difference is in the sounds that make up the words. "Cat" has one sound, or one letter, in each syllable. But "dog" only has one sound for the whole word. So even though "cat" and "dog" both have one syllable, they sound different because of the sounds they're made of.

Now let's try a word with two syllables. How about "butterfly"? When you say "butterfly," you can hear two beats, or syllables. "Butter" is the first syllable and "fly" is the second syllable. You can try clapping your hands to the word "butterfly" and you'll hear two beats!

But what if we take away part of the word "butterfly"? If we just say "butter," we only hear one beat. So "butter" has one syllable. But when we add "fly" to "butter," we get two syllables!

So now you know that syllables are the beats in words. You can count syllables by clapping your hands or tapping your fingers. And the sounds that make up words can affect how many syllables a word has.