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Syllabicating Filipino Words

Mark Complete

Keep In Mind:
Filipino words are pronounced the way they are syllabicated.
a.) Double vowels should always be pronounced separately. ("oo" is pronounced "oh oh", not "oo").
b.) Remember that “Ng/ng” is considered to be one letter in the Filipino alphabet.

In speaking the Filipino language words are syllabicated, or broken down by syllable in a slightly different way than in English. How you break apart syllables when speaking has a significant impact on your accent and how clearly you speak the language.



Be sure to read the explanations below, but with this lesson it's really important to do the drill exercises associated with this lesson. The explanation can be difficult to internalize, but after doing the drills for a while the pattern will start to become second nature.

Four Syllable Patterns

To help you in articulating words properly in the Filipino language, it is useful to know the 4 different kinds of syllables. All Filipino syllables fall into one of these four patterns.

The idea of how a word is broken into syllables is important for good pronunciation.

The matching pattern will be highlighted in BLUE in the examples below.


1.) The single vowel syllable ( V ):
This pattern is typically only used at the very beginning or end of a word, or after a glottal stop:
Markup
Examples:
amá
a-má = V-CV
tao
ta-o = CV-V
una
u-na = V-CV
ulán
u-lán = V-CVC
Markup
Examples:
ama
a-ma = V-CV
tao
ta-o = CV-V
una
u-na = V-CV
ulan
u-lan = V-CVC
2.) The consonant-vowel syllable ( CV )
Markup
Examples:
tao
ta-o = CV-V
ulo
u-lo = V-CV
tubig
tu-big = CV-CVC
sakáy
sa-káy = CV-CVC
Markup
Examples:
tao
ta-o = CV-V
ulo
u-lo = V-CV
tubig
tu-big = CV-CVC
sakay
sa-kay = CV-CVC
3.) The vowel-consonant syllable ( VC )
Markup
Examples:
antók
an-tók = VC-CVC
unggóy
ung-góy = VC-CVC
* note: ng = 1 letter
ambón
am-bón = VC-CVC
mabaít
ma-ba-ít = CV-CV-VC
Markup
Examples:
antok
an-tok = VC-CVC
unggoy
ung-goy = VC-CVC
note: ng = 1 letter
ambon
am-bon = VC-CVC
mabait
ma-ba-it = CV-CV-VC
4.) The consonant-vowel-consonant syllable ( CVC )
This pattern is most commonly found at the end of a word.
Markup
Examples:
tulog
tu-log = CV-CVC
sabón
sa-bón = CV-CVC
araw
a-raw = V-CVC
bulaklák
bu-lak-lák = CV-CVC-CVC
silangan
si-la-ngan = CV-CV-CVC
* note: ng = 1 letter
Markup
Examples:
tulog
tu-log = CV-CVC
sabon
sa-bon = CV-CVC
araw
a-raw = V-CVC
bulaklak
bu-lak-lak = CV-CVC-CVC
silangan
si-la-ngan = CV-CV-CVC
note: ng = 1 letter
A couple notes on how to break apart Filipino words into syllables:

 
Note that there are no 4-letter syllables in the Filipino language. So "kumusta" would never be pronounced as "ku-must-a". (Correct: "ku-mus-ta")

 
When possible, don't use patterns with two consonants or vowels in a row ( CCV, VCC, CVV or VVC syllables ). So "tatlo" should not be "ta-tlo" because "tlo" is a CCV pattern. (Correct: "tat-lo"). "aaral" should not be "aar-al" because "aar" is a "VVC" pattern (Correct: "a-ar-al").

 
Typically, you should syllabicate using two letter CV or VC syllable patterns if possible. Use the single V pattern or three letter CVC pattern only when necessary to stay within the syllabication rules.

Double Vowels

There are many Filipino words that contain two or even three vowels in a row. When pronouncing these words, each and every vowel gets pronounced separately! This is different than in English, where multiple vowels are often pronounced as a single sound.

For example, in the English language, the double "o" in the word "look" is pronounced like how the letter "u" would sound. However in the Filipino language "loók" is broken into two syllables and pronounced as lo-ók.

Here are more examples of Filipino words with double vowels. Follow the Filipino syllabication rules as you try to read and pronounce them.
Markup
Examples:
saán is syllabicated as sa-án
maaari is syllabicated as ma-a-a-ri
doón is syllabicated as do-ón
nauuhaw is syllabicated as na-u-u-haw
paano is syllabicated as pa-a-no
daán is syllabicated as da-án
Markup
Examples:
saan is syllabicated as sa-an
maaari is syllabicated as ma-a-a-ri
doon is syllabicated as do-on
nauuhaw is syllabicated as na-u-u-haw
paano is syllabicated as pa-a-no
daan is syllabicated as da-an

Confused? Don't Worry! Run through our Syllabication Drills on this web site, and soon syllabication the Filipino way should become quite easy and natural to do after a while.


Mark Complete

Next: Syllabication Drill

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Filipino Language Pronunciation & Spelling
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