Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Download this course

Share this free course

Teaching Spanish pronunciation
Teaching Spanish pronunciation

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

3.2 English syllable

English allows the following monosyllabic words (words consisting of one syllable); the colon shows that the vowel is long):

Table _unit2.4.1 Table 2 Syllable complexity in English

Syllable shape


See CV: simple onset, no coda
Seat CV:C simple onset, simple coda
Tree CCV: complex onset, no coda
Street CCCV:C very complex onset, simple coda
Treats CCV:CC complex onset, complex coda
Strengths CCCVCCC very complex onset, very complex coda

We can see that the maximum size of the onset in English is three consonants, as is the maximum size of the coda. It is relevant to examine the kinds of consonants that can occur in different positions; these examples show the privileged status that liquid consonants enjoy as the second element in onset clusters, and the privileges that are associated with /s/ as the “outermost” (furthest from the vowel) member of clusters, both in the onset and in the coda. Phonotactic knowledge is generally not conscious, it demands consistent awareness-raising. Many of the above combinations are not possible in Spanish and Spanish speakers will therefore have difficulties pronouncing them.